Libertyville – From ice skating to sledding to cross-country skiing, the Lake County Forest Preserve offers a variety of reasons for residents to get outside this season. Before heading out to the forest reserve for winter walks and ice twirls, check out our winter sports page online.
sunlit evening hike
Hikers, skiers, and snowshoeers can use small solar lights to guide them along the 1.3-mile Fitness Trail in Libertyville’s Old School Forest Preserve and the 1.65-mile rolling hills of the Millennium Trail adjacent to Winter Sports. Along the way, you can do vigorous exercise at night. Area of Lakewood Forest Reserve in Waukonda.
Normal conservation hours are from 6:30 AM to sunset, but the illuminated trail and adjacent parking lot remain open after sunset from 9:00 PM to March 12. Solar lights act as guides along the trail. Bringing a flashlight or headlamp is recommended for additional lighting.
To access the illuminated trails, head to Lakewood’s Winter Sports Area on the east side of Fairfield Road just south of Route 176 or Old School’s on the east side of St Mary’s Road just south of Route 176. Please park in the main entrance lot. Forest reserve rangers regularly patrol the area.
Sled Hill is located at Lakewood in Wauconda and Old School in Libertyville. Lakewood Hill is part of the site’s dedicated winter sports area and is lit up for winter fun until 9pm every day, conditions permitting. Old School Hill is open until sunset when conditions are favorable for sledding. Snowboards, metal runners and toboggans are not permitted.
cross country ski
Cross-country skiers can enjoy nearly 200 miles of trails in forest reserves throughout Lake County. Riverwoods’ Ryerson Conservation Area requires a 4-inch snow base before opening the trails for cross-country skiing. Manicured trails run along the Lakewood winter sports area and the Des Plaines River Trail between Old School and Light Woods Canoe Launch on Route 60 in Vernon Hills. Grooming is typically done the day after a heavy snowfall and uses new equipment that prepares the trails for both traditional and skate style skiing.
Through March 31, snowmobiles can use 21 miles of designated trails within the reserve, all of which connect to snowmobile trails in other areas. A 4 inch snow base and icy ground is required to open a snowmobile trail. Snowmobiles should observe and pay attention to trail route signs along all forest reserve snowmobile trails.
The Death Plains River Trail, which runs from Russell Road to just south of Wadsworth Road, is the longest trail for snowmobiles. Parking and trail access is at Van Patten Woods Canoe Ranch on Russell Road, east of Route 41, and Sedge Meadow Forest Preserve on Wadsworth Road, just east of Route 41 in Wadsworth.
Snowmobile trails are open Sunday-Thursday 6:30 AM-11 PM and Friday-Saturday 6:30 AM-midnight, conditions permitting. The following snowmobile trailer parking lots have extended hours for snowmobiles. Van Patten Woods Canoe Launch car park on Russell Road east of US 41; Sedge Meadow car park on Wadsworth Road east of US 41; Lakewood car park on nearby Brown Road. Highway 12. All other parking lots are closed at sunset.
Lace up your skates and head to the lakes at Libertyville’s Independence Grove or the rinks at Lakewood’s winter sports area. Lakewood’s shallow rink, which is open from 6:30 am to 9:00 pm, usually freezes earlier than the lake at Independence Grove, which is open from 6:30 am to sunset. Ice skating on lakes requires an ice layer of 4.5 inches.
There are five designated ice fishing areas: Banana Lake at Lakewood, Stirling Lake at Van Patten Woods, Lake Hastings at Lake Villa, Lake Carinae at Gurnee and South Bay at Independence Grove. Ice fishing is free and done at your own risk. Ice conditions are not monitored, so anglers should check ice thickness before venturing out into frozen waters. It is recommended that the entire body of water be covered with at least 4 inches of hard ice before an individual attempts ice fishing. Please bring your own gear. Temporary huts and shelters are permitted but must be removed by the end of the day. A pole allows him to tip up to only two or two of his hooks on each line. A hole no larger than 6 inches in diameter must be drilled. Van Patten Woods is open for ice fishing from 6:30 AM to 1 hour after sunset on weekdays and from 6:30 AM to sunset on Saturdays and Sundays. Other sites are open daily from 6:30 am to sunset for ice fishing. Illinois fishing regulations and licenses apply.
For a complete list of winter activities, visit LCFPD.org/winter-sports.