Blackwell Forest Preserve is part of a wide swath of green space that surrounds Butterfield Road in Wheaton and Winfield. Blackwell, Warrenville Grove, St. James Farm, Herrick Lake and Danada are all connected and offer some of the best places to run in the county. Blackwell offers the most to do among the forest preserves, and is a popular destination for camping, fishing, boating, archery—even tubing down the 836-foot Mt. Hoy in the winter.
What Makes It Great
The preserve is divided into two sections, north and south, by Mack Road, which intersects the preserve. The south preserve has the most amenities and features Silver Lake, a popular spot for boating and fishing. For runners, you’ll find the 2.2-mile west branch regional trail, which goes from the parking lot to the north section of the preserve. The crushed limestone trail is nearly all tree-covered and has its share of rolling hills. See a trail map of the south preserve here.
The district first bought land for the forest preserve in the 1960s, when it decided it could convert a former quarry into a basin for storm water that could also be used for recreational activities. That would eventually become Silver Lake. Another part of the preserve was used as a county landfill from 1965 to 1973. That eventually was turned into Mt. Hoy, the dominant feature in the south side of the preserve. Runners looking for a hill workout will be hard-pressed to find anything better. The grass-covered hill is a popular spot for local cross-country teams, but anyone can take put themselves to the test if they’re up for it.
The north side of the preserve features another 4.2 miles of crushed limestone trails, which mostly surround McKee March in the center. The north side has a different feel than the south side. The trails have less tree cover and instead are dominated by marsh and prairie topography. There aren’t any amenities on the trail, but you can access some bathrooms at the parking lot along Mack Road. See a map of the north section of the preserve here.
The area is a popular spot for bird watching, and it’s also the home of coyote, red foxes, sandpipers and muskrats, according to the DuPage Forest Preserve.
Who is Going to Love It
Runners looking for a quiet place to enjoy a run under 10 miles will find plenty to like at the Blackwell Forest Preserve. If you want to run longer than that you can connect to other local preserves very easily. Hard-core runners looking for hill work won’t find a better challenge in DuPage County.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Parking at the Blackwell Forest Preserve is easy, with entrances and parking lots from both Butterfield Road and Mack Road Road.
Like all DuPage County Forest Preserves, Herrick is open from one hour after sunrise to one hour after sunset.