The preserve's main entrance is on Buckley Road (Route 137), just east of Milwaukee Avenue (Route 21), and west of River Road. Pets are not permitted in the preserve.
Situated on the scenic North Bay, this striking pavilion and adjacent open area are perfect for a corporate picnic, outdoor wedding, family reunion or other lakeside event. The pavilion accommodates up to 500 people and offers a stone fireplace, picnic tables, drinking water, electricity, parking, toilets, trail access, fishing pier, playfield and sand volleyball court.
Centered around a 115-acre lake, Independence Grove offers a variety of opportunities for outdoor recreation and nature education. Roughly 6.25 miles of trails circle the lake and run through scenic natural areas here.
Though personal watercraft are not allowed on the lake at Independence Grove, you can rent fishing boats, canoes, kayaks, stand up paddleboards, and pedal boats at the marina spring through early fall. You can also rent comfort bikes, quadracycles and adaptive trikes. Approved flotation gear and bike helmets are provided.
The marina also sells bait, tackle, fishing licenses, snacks and beverages. The beach offers 400 feet of sand along the lake's South Bay. An adjacent beach house offers washrooms, showers and lockers. The walk-up café located at the Visitors Center sells snacks and beverages. Season beach passes offer unlimited use of the beach and are available for purchase at the Visitors Center.
Located on the north side of the Visitors Center, the café is open seasonally and sells snacks, light entrees, beverages and ice cream from a convenient walk-up window. Located adjacent to the Visitors Center, this sensory-rich play environment with handicap-adaptable equipment and wide paved pathways makes access comfortable and enjoyable for all visitors. All Forest Preserve playgrounds are smoke-free environments.
An amphitheater, fountain and native garden make an ideal setting for a variety of special programs, events, outdoor celebrations, and our annual summer concerts series. The native garden boasts lush flowers and foliage, a sculptured fountain, wooden pergola and gazebo, wood and wrought iron benches and winding red brick walkways. Volunteer gardeners help tend to its seasonal needs. The garden also shows homeowners how to create their own beautiful landscapes using low-maintenance native plants.
Bring your own canoe or kayak and launch it on the Des Plaines River. Located near the preserve's North Bay Pavilion, the launch offers shoreline fishing, a trail connection to the Des Plaines River Trail
, and parking. If you put in here, the next ramp, Oak Spring Road Canoe Launch, is 2.7 miles downstream.
We've transformed a sterile quarry with step sides into a rich aquatic ecosystem with gently graded slopes and underwater islands. Musky, northern pike, black crappie, largemouth bass, channel catfish, walleye, bluegill and yellow perch are found here. Game fish are periodically stocked. A mandatory catch-and-release fishing program at Independence Grove makes it recreational for anglers and beneficial for nature. Anglers are encouraged to use barbless, non-stainless steel hooks.
During the spring, birds stop here to rest and feed during their long journey to nesting grounds as far north as the Arctic. Watch the trees along the Des Plaines River Greenway corridor for many colorful species of warblers. The preserve's rolling prairies, open fields and woodlands offer the perfect environment for a variety of wildlife like owls, muskrats, beavers, minks, raccoons, possums and deer.
Take a guided night hike with our naturalists and you might even spy an owl in the oak forest. We also encourage wildlife by creating habitats for them. Special underwater shelves around the lakeshore are designed for aquatic plants. Above and below the water's surface, these plants provide nesting sites, cover and food for all types of wildlife.