Year-round outdoor recreation awaits at Fullersburg Woods. Part of the DuPage County Forest Preserve system, this peaceful, scenic gem is hidden amidst luxurious homes and shopping centers in Oak Brook, a western suburb of Chicago. It was winter when I first discovered Fullersburg Woods, as it was the site of a snowshoeing clinic I attended. It was glorious in the wintertime and made such an impression on me that I have returned during the warmer months to further explore all that Fullersburg Woods have to offer.
There are almost four miles of multi-use trails within the preserve, most of which follow alongside Salt Creek. The trails are well groomed and shared by hikers, bikers, dog-walkers, and, in the winter, cross-country skiers and snowshoers. (The 2.3-mile long multipurpose trail also allows horses.) Families with babies need not worry; the trails are easily navigable for strollers (my one-year-old daughter’s mode of transport on our last visit). Speaking of families, Fullersburg Woods is an ideal place for a family outing. There is a spacious picnic area right next to the Visitor Center off the main parking lot, and there are several picnic shelters located along the trails. Bring the fishing poles and cast a line into Salt Creek for the chance of landing largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, northern pike and walleye. My daughter especially enjoyed watching the water rush over the dam in Salt Creek, and marveled at the waterfowl flying or swimming by.
Along with recreational opportunities that appeal to every member of the family, Fullersburg Woods is also home to Graue Mill and Museum. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, it is the only operating waterwheel gristmill in northern Illinois. The mill also was used as a hideout for runaway slaves traveling the Underground Railroad. Visit the museum and take a step back in time. Learn about 19th-century life from the milling, weaving, and living history presentations. A tour of the mill also includes a special hands-on area, which is sure to be a big hit with the younger visitors. The Graue Mill and Museum is open 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM daily; closed Mondays (except Holiday Mondays). Admission is $3.50 for adults, $3.00 for seniors, $1.50 for children 4-12; children 3 & under free.
When visiting Fullersburg Woods, it is easy to forget that you are only twenty miles outside of Chicago’s Loop. The natural scenery and tranquility transport you far from the busy, bustling city, and it’s a pleasant reminder of how beautiful Illinois really is.