An oak forest, 86-acre Sterling Lake and the Des Plaines River provide a picturesque backdrop for a variety of outdoor recreation activities at this preserve.
Five miles of trails are open for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing. Please keep dogs leashed and on trails at all times, and pick up after them. Learn about our off-leash Dog Parks (permit required).
The Des Plaines River Trail bisects the preserve and is also open to horseback riding and snowmobiling. It's accessible from the preserve trails or from the trailhead at the preserve's second entrance on the south side of Russell Road.
A canoe launch, located on Russell Road, offers shoreline fishing along the Des Plaines River, and parking. If you put in here, the next canoe launch is at Wadsworth Road, 6.25 river miles downstream.
The lake offers a wheelchair accessible floating dock, two fishing piers, and a boat ramp and sand launch area for cartop boats, canoes, kayaks, paddleboards or other small non-motorized watercraft. Electric trolling motors are allowed. Trailers are permitted but parking is limited to the grass overflow parking lot. Launching is free and at your own risk. You'll need approved flotation gear. When conditions allow for ice fishing on the lake, the preserve is open weekdays 6:30 am until one hour past sunset.
A rustic campground that can be reserved for organized youth groups of up to 60 is located on the preserve's northern end. The site has a water pump, fire rings, firewood, parking and toilets. A permit is required to reserve the campground. For details or to purchase a permit, call or visit our General Offices, 847-367-6640, weekdays from 8 am–4:30 pm.
Model aircraft enthusiasts will enjoy a nearby flying field that includes a windsock, spectator area, toilets, drinking water and parking. A permit and current AMA license is required.