Deer Grove Forest Preserve is home to almost 2,000 acres of open prairie, towering oak woodlands, and wetlands that are full of life. Located in Palatine, Illinois, Deer Grove boasts beautiful trails, birdwatching hotspots, picnic areas, and ample opportunities to explore the rare ecosystems found there.
Deer Grove is managed by the Forest Preserve of Cook County and is split into two different sections. Deer Grove West is more wooded than the eastern section and has woodland streams. At Deer Grove East, visitors will find restored wetlands teeming with biodiversity and prairie grasslands full of native plants. Throughout the entire preserve, visitors will spot native plants and animals like milkweed, purple cone flowers, red-headed woodpeckers, and blue-spotted salamanders while strolling through the rare ecosystems found there.
The western section of the preserve was the first parcel of land acquired by the Forest Preserves of Cook County in 1916. In 2008, Openlands partnered with the Forest Preserves of Cook County, City of Chicago Department of Aviation, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to begin the savanna, prairie and wetland restoration efforts on the eastern half of Deer Grove. Since then, Openlands has successfully restored 23 wetland areas at Deer Grove East and the diversity of wildlife at the preserve has surged. In 2017, as a mark of the high-quality restoration, part of the Forest Preserve was enrolled in the Illinois Nature Preserves system, protecting it in perpetuity. Today, a $3.15 million restoration project is ongoing at Deer Grove West.
Both sides of Deer Grove offer multiple trail loops, paved and unpaved, for the public to enjoy the beauty of the preserve. There are trails for walking, running, hiking, biking, equestrian riding, and cross-country skiing. In 2018, the Forest Preserves of Cook County and Openlands opened a new interpretative trail in Deer Grove East, with elements drawing the visitor’s attention to different basic nature themes: land, sky, and water. The four interpretative areas were installed along the forest preserve’s 2.8-mile paved trail. The interpretive trail includes signage and spots to sit, relax, and reflect.