Main preserve entrance is on Route 173, east of Route 41. Second entrance is on Russell Road, east of Route 41.
Boat launch, picnic shelters: use main entrance, follow signs to Sterling Lake, park in first lot on the west side of the lake.
Horse trailer parking, Des Plaines River Trail
mile marker "0": use second entrance, parking is on south side of Russell Road.
Model aircraft field, youth group campground: use second entrance, parking is on north side of the road. Permit is required for use of these areas.
Canoe launch: on south side of Russell Road, east of Route 41 and the Aircraft Field and Campground area.
Trail surface type is gravel and the following activities are allowed: Hiking, Biking, Horseback Riding, Cross-Country Skiing.
Van Patten Woods features an oak forest, 86-acre Sterling Lake, and the Des Plaines River, providing a picturesque backdrop for a variety of outdoor recreation activities.
Five miles of trails are open for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing. Please keep dogs leashed and on trails at all times, and pick up after them.
The Des Plaines River Trail
bisects the preserve and is also open to horseback riding and snowmobiling. It's accessible from the preserve trails or from the trailhead at the preserve's second entrance on the south side of Russell Road.
A canoe launch, located on Russell Road, offers shoreline fishing along the Des Plaines River, and parking. If you put in here, the next canoe launch is at Wadsworth Road, 6.25 river-miles downstream.
Sterling Lake offers a wheelchair accessible floating dock, two fishing piers, and a boat ramp and sand launch area for cartop boats, canoes, kayaks or other small watercraft.
Launching is free and at your own risk. You'll need approved flotation gear. Electric trolling motors are allowed. Trailers are permitted but parking is limited to the grass overflow parking lot.
A rustic campground that can be reserved for organized youth groups of up to 60 is located on the preserve's northern end. The site has a water pump, fire rings, firewood, parking and toilets. A permit is required to reserve the campground. For details or to purchase a permit, call or visit our General Offices, 847-367-6640, weekdays from 8 am–4:30 pm.
Model aircraft enthusiasts will enjoy a nearby flying field that includes a windsock, spectator area, toilets, drinking water and parking. A permit and current AMA license is required.
The key natural feature here is the river and its adjacent floodplain, which serve as a refuge to many native species while providing flood control to Lake County residents. On higher ground to the river's east, you can relax among native oak woodlands and planted pine groves. To the west, natural areas are being restored where the former gravel quarry had severely altered the land.