Insider Tips for Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in Darien

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve is a Kidlist Team favorite and we have become quite the experts on the area as a result. In this article, you will find helpful information about about one of the most wonderful open parcels of land in DuPage County. The most common question is we receive is, “Where is the best place to park that is closest to the waterfall?” We get it and we’ve been there. The walk through the forest preserve is beautiful, but we all know that your kids are looking for the waterfall and want to get there as soon as possible! Find out the best place to park, what to bring, how to get to Rocky Glen Waterfall, tips from local moms, other areas of interest and more.

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve really is one of the hidden gems of the DuPage County Forest District and has it all for any outdoor enthusiast.

How to Prepare for Your Afternoon at Waterfall Glen

Choose a day when the weather isn’t too hot and muggy. Although a lot of the trail is lined with trees, our kids tend to enjoy hiking more when they aren’t overheated.

Once you arrive, you will not be in a hurry to leave so plan enough snacks and water to keep you satisfied. Waterfall Glen is a perfect place to escape for an afternoon and enjoy all that nature has to offer! So you don’t want to have to cut it short because the troops are hungry or thirsty.

The gravel paths make it difficult to push a stroller, so we recommend leaving your stroller at home unless you have a jogging stroller or one with tires that can handle the gravel.

Wear shoes that would be okay to get wet, yet sturdy enough to wade through the rocky and somewhat slippery terrain because depending on how adventurous you and your kids are feeling, you might want to step from rock to rock when you get to Rocky Glen Waterfall. You can see Megan’s kids below, enjoying the water barefoot.

waterfall-glen-river-rocks

Where to Park and How To Get to the Waterfall

Best Place to Park Close to the Waterfall

First and foremost, where is the best place to park? The closest parking lot to the waterfall is off of Cass Avenue and Bluff Road. If you are exiting I-55 at South Cass Avenue, continue down Cass and resist the urge to park where the Waterfall Glen signs are right off the highway. Instead, look for signs that say “Outdoor Education Camp” and “Guard Residence” and continue down that street until you come to a circle drive with parking spots on the perimeter.

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How to Get to Rocky Glen Waterfall

At the beginning of the trail is an information board and map. Once you begin your hike, you will see little signs that will help navigate you to the “Rocky Glen Waterfall.” Just keep following those signs for about a 10 minute walk. The waterfall is about 1 mile from the Bluff Road entrance.

Jill’s kids have been known for making listening for the waterfall a little adventure, and counting butterflies which were plentiful as they make their way up the trail, which we think is a great idea!

Once you find the waterfall, you most likely will see people wading in the shallow water or sitting and enjoying the scenery. It is very peaceful with the sound of the falling waters. We would love to see your photos at this beloved spot. Tag us (@kidlist) so we can see and possibly share your pics!

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve is open daily one hour after sunrise until one hour after sunset. There are over 10 miles of scenic trails including areas to bike, fish and horseback ride so you can easily spend the afternoon or entire day there.

waterfall glen waterfall

Natural History of Waterfall Glen

Waterfall Glen and the entire Des Plaines River Valley was formed by the Wisconsin glacial meltwaters and drainage that once covered most of the Chicagoland area. Waterfall Glen’s prairies, savannas, and oak-maple woodlands contain 740 native plant species and over 300 species of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians, and reptiles and another 300 of invertebrates.

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Recreation in Waterfall Glen

Walk, run, bike or horseback ride along almost 11 miles of limestone- and turf-covered routes. Maps, signs and mile markers are located along the routes making it easy to track your progress. The paths are wide enough to accomodate many but keep in mind they are not paved. In the winter, cross country skiing is possible.

Several old quarries scattered throughout offer still fishing waters. Anglers 16 or older must carry valid Illinois sport fishing licenses.

The youth group campground is open year round. The District defines youth groups as recognized, nonprofit organizations. Only members of these groups, with their accompanying leaders, may camp in these areas. Camping permits and adult supervision of one leader over 21 years of age for every 10 children are mandatory for campsite use. Groups can reserve sites through Visitor Services at (630) 933-7248.

waterfall glen jill kidlist

Bike Riding at Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve

Megan’s family chose to bike ride on a beautiful afternoon. Most of the paths are shaded by the extensive amount of trees and vegetation making it very enjoyable on a warm, sunny day. The paths are not paved, rather covered in crushed limestone so it can be more strenuous of a bike ride, especially for younger children. It would be very difficult for a rider with training wheels. Her then 6 year old son rode his two wheel bike and was able to keep up well with her and her husband who was pulling their 5 year old and 2 year old in a bike trailer. In all, they biked 7 miles over a span of three hours, which included many stops along the way to enjoy the beauty of the surroundings.

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Areas of Interest at Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve

The most popular spot at Waterfall Glen Forst Preserve is of course Rocky Glen Waterfall, but there are other areas of interest to check out and enjoy!

Another favorite stop is the Scenic Overlook. Here, you are high enough to look out over the DesPlaines River and it’s a beautiful view. There is a picnic table to have snacks, drinks and listen to music. Megan’s husband and sons even had a quick game of catch (having a bike trailer is helpful for carrying things like a cooler and sporting equipment). They felt they probably could have spent all afternoon in this spot alone- it was that beautiful and relaxing.

waterfall-glen-scenic-overlook

Continuing along the trail, you can see a prairie, marshes and even a model airplane field.  For convenience along the route, there are 12 benches, four restrooms (some are portable) and two places for water. All are marked on the map so you can plan accordingly.

More information on Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve can be found here.

About the Author

Annie Tandy
Annie loves making great memories with her kids and started Kidlist so she can help others do the same! Besides finding fun and exciting things to do, Annie, her husband, and their kids enjoy caring for their chickens and hanging out with them in the backyard. Click here to read about Annie's chickens and see pictures! She also finds joy in gardening, home improvement projects, knitting, soap making, and painting along with being active in her community, church, and as a board member of the Western Springs Business Association. Click here to follow Annie on Instagram.

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