Driving up to the Greene Valley Forest Preserve, you see something rare in the Chicago area—a giant hill. If the 190-foot scenic overlook seems out of place, that’s because it was created from a retired landfill. So does one’s man’s trash become another man’s treasure, at least when it comes to looking to do an interval hill workout?
Unfortunately not, at least during the week. The overlook is only open to the public from May until October on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m to 6 p.m. And even then it’s designed with car drivers in mind, not runners.
But don’t let that stop you from visiting the Greene Valley Forest Preserve. It still has 12 miles of crushed limestone trails with rolling hills that are a lot of fun to explore.
What Makes It Great
This land was purchased by the forest preserve district in 1926 from the Greene family, which had initially settled there in the early 1800s. You can visit the 1841 Oak Cottage farmhouse that’s still on the site as part of the park—it’s just off the orange trail. The trail system in Green Valley is crushed limestone, like most trails in DuPage County. The 2.7-mile green trail is the longest—and I’d say best—trail in the preserve. It’s mostly tree covered and travels through several ravines, offering a fair bit of climbing. It occupies a loop near the center of the park, crossing 75th Street twice, but otherwise offering uninterrupted running.
South of the main green trail, the 1.4-mile Thunderbird spur offers some additional tree-covered trail. East of the main loop, you can take connector trails to cross Green Road to access the orange Greene Trail (1.7 miles), blue Valley Trail (1 mile) and purple Oak Spur (1 mile). These trails have less tree cover and feature prairie and marsh environments for the most part. The blue Hawk Trail (1.8 miles) is south of the main parking lot and does a loop around the scenic overlook.
One caveat: the signage isn't very good once you’re on the trails. There are a lot of connecting trails and it’s easy to get turned around. Take a look at the trail map to plan your route. The ComEd right-of-way, which runs across the north side of the preserve, is a good way to get your bearings.
The hilly, ravine-filled sections of the trail are a lot of fun. The 1,414-acre preserve is home to 540 native species and is one of the county’s most biologically diverse sites, according to the forest preserve. You’ll run across Anderson Creek and the East Branch of the DuPage River. You can explore the marshes and wetlands, which are home to herons, egrets, meadowlarks and owls.
Who is Going to Love It
If you’re looking for an interesting run with good topographical diversity, Greene Valley is the place for you. Bathrooms are available at all four parking areas, and water is at the north Greene Road parking lot and the parking lot off of Thunderbird Road.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Parking is ample in any of the four lots. DuPage Forest Preserve rules apply, which means the preserve is open from one hour after sunrise to on hour after sunset.