- Cook County Forest Preserves
The Cook County Forest Preserves are a network of open spaces, containing forest, prairie, wetland, streams, and lakes, that are set aside as natural areas. Cook County contains Chicago, Illinois, and is the center of a densely-populated urban metropolitan area in northeastern Illinois. The Forest Preserves encompass approximately 68,000 acres (275 km²) of open space within the urban surroundings of Chicago. It contains facilities for recreation, as well as a zoo and gardens.
The Forest Preserves have a different purpose than parks, also they generally do not contain organized recreational facilities such as tennis courts or softball diamonds. They do contain hiking, bicycling, and riding trails, as well as facilities for nature and group activities, and they are heavily used for picnicking. They are administered by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, a special taxation district that crosses municipal boundaries. Their headquarters are located in River Forest near Harlem Avenue and Lake Street.
Both the Brookfield Zoo (managed by the Chicago Zoological Society) and the Chicago Botanic Gardens (managed by the Chicago Horticultural Society) are located in the forest preserves. The Forest Preserve District also maintains eleven public golf courses.
There are thirteen trail systems within the preserve district, they are the:
- Arie Crown Forest trail system
- Burnham Greenway trail system
- Busse Woods bicycle trail
- Centennial and I&M Canal trail system
- Deer Grove trail system
- Des Plaines trail system
- Des Plaines River Trail follows the river through much of Cook County and Lake County.
- North Branch trail system
- Palos trail system
- Poplar Creek trail system
- Sag Valley trail system
- Salt Creek trail system
- Thorn Creek trail system
- Tinley Creek trail system
- Chicago Portage National Historic Site
- Red Gate Woods
- North Creek Woods
- Sauk Trail Woods
- Plum Creek Forest Preserve
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