Insider’s Guide to Fullersburg Woods and Graue Mill and Museum


Fullersburg Woods Forest Preserve is one of our favorite places to go to enjoy nature. There are so many features of this forest preserve that are great for kids. Want to get a sneak peak of what you will find there? We have a helpful guide to everything you can enjoy at Fullersburg Woods, including Fullersburg Nature Center, the trails, waterfall, Graue Mill Museum, and tips, such as our favorite place to park.

You can also find Fullersburg Woods in our lists of the best trails for kids and nature centers.

Where is Fullersburg Woods located?

Fullersburg Woods is in Oak Brook, IL right off Ogden Avenue and York Road. Salt Creek winds through the forest preserve, creating homes for various wildlife, such as cranes, ducks, and frogs. Fullersburg Woods is part of the Forest Preserve District of DuDage County.

Where should we park?

If you put Fullersburg Woods into your GPS, it will take you to the main parking lot on Spring Road. However, our favorite place to park is Graue Mill and Museum parking lot right off York Road at the stop light for Spring Road, on the east side of York Road.

When you park on this side of the forest preserve, you can walk under the bridge past Graue Mill and the waterfall as well as enjoy the paved paths before you get to the main parking lot where the gravel paths start.

Where is the waterfall?

The Fullersburg Woods Forest Preserve waterfall used to be one of our favorites, but there was a lot of controversy around it for many years because it was man made. In December 2023, the dam was removed to benefit the local wildlife.

Over the years, people created a small beaten path by the picnic tables near Graue Mill. You can make your way down to the level of the water under trees and watch birds fly overhead while watching the water cascade down. Just in case you want to reminisce, here’s another photo of the waterfall.

Trails at Fullersburg Woods

Click here for a trail map.

The beautiful trails wind along Salt Creek and across wooden bridges, which makes it a popular spot for family photos. You can stop along the trail in one of the gazebos. There’s a huge tree stump along the trail when you are circling back towards the nature center that kids like to climb up on.

From the main parking lot, the nature center is to the left and the flat bridge is to the right. If you walk across the bridge, you can turn left or right. To the left are the longer loops with gazebos, another bridge, and benches, and if you head to the right you can see the waterfall from the other side of Salt Creek.

Insider tip: You can walk to York Tavern for lunch or dinner! Continue down the trail to the right after the bridge, pass the waterfall and you’ll see the restaurant through the trees. They have great burgers, pizza, sandwiches, salads, and more. They are open seven days a week starting at 11am.

Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center

Your kids can enjoy various activities and learning stations at this nature center. The large birds nest is fun to play in and makes for a cute photo op.

There are also tanks with animals, including a turtle, snake, and fish. Don’t miss the huge skeleton of a woolly mammoth and activity tables too.

On the backside of the nature center is a nice patio to enjoy the creek and watch wildlife, along with stone steps and picnic tables to rest and have a snack.

Fullersburg Woods Nature Center is open Monday through Saturday 10am-5pm. It is closed on Sundays and select holidays.

Historic Graue Mill and Museum

Graue Mill is the only operating waterwheel gristmill in Illinois. This old mill has a wooden waterwheel and provides feed to Kline Creek Farm in West Chicago for their animals. The attendants told us that they have sold the cornmeal to the public in the past, but the mill has not been able to provide approved grain for human consumption in the last couple years and needs maintenance to be able to resume.

However, there is a lot to see at the Graue Mill Museum. The mill is open for tours and programs mid-April to mid-November and open to the walk through on Thursdays and Fridays from 10am-4pm and Saturdays and Sundays 12-4pm. It is closed Mondays through Wednesdays and select holidays. Admission is free. They also have demonstrations on Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm.

It’s a great history lesson for kids and interesting to see the old mill tools and the way of life when Frederick Graue and his family lived in this 1850’s Victorian home. Graue Mill and Museum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the only gristmill recognized as an Illinois Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

There are three floors filled with a buggy, weaving loom, antique dining room, and tool shop. There’s also a table with Lincoln Logs so kids can play after checking out the vintage way of life.

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