We live in a suburb with little redeeming natural characteristics, with just a few small remnants of the environment before it was overbuilt with mostly residences. The small saving grace near our home is Maple Grove, an 81-acre Forest Preserve, a small remnant of the vast maple forest that became Downers Grove.
Maple Grove is one of the oldest forest preserves in DuPage County, becoming a forest preserve in 1920. Purchased from the Marshall Field estate, it originally was a source of sugar for the Potawotomi tribe.
The preserve has trails (a Y-shaped wide gravel path and singletrack), picnic tables and a city park adjoining. St Joe’s Creek runs alongside, with smaller weather-dependent creeks within the preserve itself.
I’ve done plenty of walking, even more trail running here, and even some mountain biking. Apart from dog walkers, it’s usually pretty quiet, and a good place to escape from the daily grind. Now that we have a new adventure dog, I’m coming here to get her exposed to more natural places.
There is no reason to search out Maple Grove if you’re not in the area, but if you are visiting and can’t get to one of the bigger preserves a bit further away, this is a great option for a bit of forest bathing. It also is a great place to bring the family for a few hours of fun in the preserve and then a picnic and play at the adjoining park with its shelter and jungle gym.