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Grassy Lake Yellow Trail



1.9 mile 3.1 kilometer point to point


Ascent: 90' 28 m
Descent: -61' -19 m
High: 798' 243 m
Low: 759' 231 m


Avg Grade: 1% (1°)
Max Grade: 4% (2°)


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A quiet, contemplative forest preserve, featuring rolling hills, oak woodlands, marshes, moraines, & views of Fox River.

Lake County Forest Preserves

Features Birding · Geological Significance · Historical Significance · River/Creek · Views · Wildlife

Need to Know

The main entrance is on Kelsey Road west of Old Barrington Road.

Parking is also available at the Lake Barrington Village Hall on Old Barrington Road south of Kelsey Road and southwest of Miller Road.


Grassy Lake's 5.8 miles of gravel and mowed grass trails offer some of the best access to the banks of the Fox River. Trails here wind through colorful sedge meadows, mature oak woodlands, and a variety of other natural habitats. Six scenic overlooks offer magnificent views of the Fox River Valley and of Grassy Lake.

Kelsey Road divides the preserve's two separate northern sections, but a trail tunnel and an at-grade road crossing with a flashing beacon provide safe passage at both locations. Trail connections are also provided to adjacent neighborhoods.

Trails here are open only for hiking and cross-country skiing. Biking is not allowed. Please keep dogs leashed and on the trails at all times, and pick up after them.

Silver maples, cottonwoods and willows line the banks of the Fox River and its floodwater-storing floodplain. Burly old-growth oaks occupy slightly higher ground above the river, and former agriculture fields now being restored to prairie can be viewed.

Prominent geological landforms such as kettles and kames tell of Lake County's not too distant glacial shaping, while providing sweeping views of the river valley and the surrounding area. Centuries-old landscape plantings of catalpa trees, Douglas firs, and a hedgerow of osage orange remind of us those who lived here before us.

Three rare and valuable natural features of the preserve include Wagner Fen, Flint Creek and wooded bluffs. Oak woodlands surround the fen and creek, providing habitat for songbirds, woodpeckers and hawks.

Flora & Fauna

Wagner Fen: In 2001, the 55-acre Wagner Fen portion of Grassy Lake was dedicated as an Illinois Nature Preserve, in conjunction with the 45 acres previously dedicated by Barrington-based Citizens for Conservation (CFC). Combined, the Wagner Fen nature preserve complex totals 100 acres. The fen is co-owned by CFC and the Village of Tower Lakes. The fen provides habitat for eight endangered and threatened species. CFC and Forest Preserve natural resource crews worked together to successfully preserve and restore Wagner Fen. A biological control project designed to eliminate the non-native purple loosestrife from the fen has resulted in almost complete eradication of the evasive plant species from the site.

Flint Creek One of the healthier streams in Lake County and in Illinois, Flint Creek's quality rating of a Grade B is considered rare for Illinois. With help from an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency grant, stream banks along the Flint Creek corridor were restored.


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