Midwest Trails: Greene Valley

In its oak woodlands, savannas, and wetlands, Greene Valley boasts a collection of plants and trees not commonly found in other areas of the county. The preserve is home to many native birds, mammals and plants, and provides a spectacular display of spring wildflowers. In addition, management techniques such as prescription fires, reforestation and wetland restoration projects replace ecosystems lost long ago.

Greene Valley is located in Naperville, IL, just off an interstate, so it is relatively easy for visitors to the Chicago area to get to. While it is bisected by several roads and bordered on all by both commercial and residential development, it still manages to give visitors a quiet, natural experience.

Started running while dark, rewarded by this sunrise

This was my first longer run since the Chicago Monster Half, and, even though technically the preserve does not open until an hour after dawn, a parking lot was open, so I parked and took off (I’m a rebel that way). This was also my first time trying a new sports drink, XOOD, which I had won from Thomas over at Beyond Fatigue, Pain and ACTN3. Initial response is positive – full review and giveaway to come next week.

Remnant of a bygone age

As is typical of agricultural land, it is mostly rolling hills or flat, but offers enough elevation change to be felt. Apart from the old farmstead located in the northwest corner of the preserve, there are few structures, apart from some picnic shelters and other buildings at the campground.

Typical Greene Valley View

The wildlife at Greene Valley is plentiful: In the wetlands, waterfowl, shorebirds and aquatic life flourish, and toads and frogs can be heard during the spring breeding season; red foxes, coyotes, meadowlarks, and bobolinks co-exist in the meadows; and owls can be spotted in the forest. Hawk-watching from Greene Valley Hill is popular with birders in the fall.

Not mentioned on the website are deer, which I’ve seen on previous visits. This time there were none in sight, but it may have to do with the fact that the forest preserve culls the herd between November and March, so maybe they were in hiding.

East branch Dupage River

While the path is mostly wide, smooth, and made of crushed gravel, there is a bit of singletrack near the river. Not wanting to get lost, I elected to skip it for this occasion, but will definitely return to it next time!

Unfortunate consequence of no local predators

There are plenty of other activities at this nature preserve. Green Valley Hill, which is a reclaimed landfill, has a model-airplane area, a gravel road to its summit, but is open only during the Spring and Summer. My son, daughter and I took archery lessons there this summer, free of charge. The former landfill also is mined for methane, which is burned to spin turbines and create electricity, or something similarly scientific.

Greene Valley Hill, aka Mt Trashmore

The 190-foot Greene Valley Hill provides an enticing scenic overlook and is open to the public on weekends from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m., spring through fall. A road leads from the base of the hill to a parking lot at the top, where visitors can get a bird’s-eye view of DuPage County as well as the Chicago skyline.

The introduction of native grasses and shrubs on the hillside combines conservational and recreational objectives, attracting native songbirds and wildlife while providing visual relief for preserve visitors. Model-glider and sail-plane owners with valid permits can fly their crafts from the hill.

Other nearby trails: Waterfall Glen, Danada Forest Preserve, Sag Valley, Waterfall Glen again, Herrick Lake and Danada, Palos Forest Preserve, McDowell Grove, Blackwell (winter), Greene Valley (winter), Illinois Prairie Path, Hidden Lake (winter), Waterfall Glen (winter).

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