Only twenty-four miles from downtown Chicago, Churchill Woods Forest Preserve, which is located in Lombard, Illinois, is a place of beauty any time of year. The preserve encompasses 255 acres of meadow, forest, and river. The East Branch DuPage River flows through the forest alongside trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and birding in the warmer months and cross-country skiing in the winter. This small preserve is the home for several endangered species of both plants and animals.
The fishing is good and there are special flagstone terraces set aside for fishing. Carp, crappie, bluegill, sunfish, and largemouth bass are commonly caught along the banks. Fishermen must be licensed unless they are younger than 16 or disabled.
Churchill Woods was the place where the U.S. government retained about 500 Pottawatomie indigenous people in what had been a small village before moving them to lands west of the Mississippi. The treatment of the Native Americans was laid out in the Treaty of Chicago in 1833.
It was also the site of a village called Babcock for a time.
In 1834, Winslow and Mercy Churchill arrived in land that no longer belonged to Native Americans and would soon become DuPage County. The Churchills came from New York when their land was bought to build the Erie Canal and purchased a tract of land for $1.25 per acre in what is now Churchill Woods. They became influential citizens of the town of Glen Ellyn, which named the woods after them. The first piece of land for the preserve was bought by the state in 1935. More land was added in 1968.
Birders enjoy exploring the woods at all times of year but especially during the spring-autumn migrations. They have identified 167 species of birds. There are also white-tailed deer, muskrats, fox squirrels and Eastern chipmunks. In addition, over 250 species of plants along with a large variety of mushrooms are found in the preserve.
If you’re stuck in the Chicago Metro Area, and you’re tired of looking at cars, buildings, and signs, we recommend you take a ride out to Glen Ellyn. It’s a straight shot out west on Route 64. Plan to spend an afternoon in the winter, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing or birding, a wonderful method to get away from the congestion and tensions of the city, the stress of your job and your life. It’s a way to bring peace and calm into your life.