From the Lake County Forest Preserve website (lcfpd.org)
Before heading out to a Lake County Forest Preserve for a winter hike or a twirl on the ice, check for status updates online, or call our 24-hour winter sports hotline at 847-968-3235. A recorded message conveys current trail and ice conditions for sledding, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, ice fishing and ice skating.
Solar-Lit Evening Hikes – With small solar lights to guide their way, hikers, skiers and snowshoers can get some brisk eve-ning exercise along the 1.5-mile fitness trail at Old School Forest Preserve in Libertyville, and along a 1.65-mile hilly section of the Millennium Trail adjacent to the Winter Sports Area at Lakewood Forest Preserve in Wauconda.
Though regular preserve hours are 6:30 am to sunset, the illuminated trails and adjacent parking lots will remain open after sunset until 9pm, daily through Sunday, March 12. Dogs are allowed but must be leashed.
To access the lighted trails, park at Lakewood’s Winter Sports Area located on the east side of Fairfield Road just south of Route 176, or at Old School’s main entrance lot located on the east side of St. Mary’s Road just south of Route 176.
Lake County Forest Preserve Rangers regularly patrol the areas.
Sledding – Sled hills are located at Lakewood in Wauco-nda and Old School in Libertyville. The Lakewood hill is part of a dedicated Winter Sports Area, and is lighted, allowing for winter fun until 9pm, daily. The Old School hill is open until sunset, when conditions allow sledding. Snowboards, metal runners or toboggans are not permitted.
Cross-Country Skiing – Cross-country skiers can enjoy nearly 166 miles of trails at forest preserves throughout Lake County. Groomed trails are available at Lakewood’s Winter Sports Area and at Old School, when conditions allow.
Grooming is typically done two days after a large snow fall. A 4-inch snow base is required for cross-country skiing at the Ryerson Conservation Area in Riverwoods.
Snowmobiling – Snowmobilers can use nearly 24 miles of designated trails within the preserves, many of which connect to other area snowmobile trails. A 4-inch snow base is required for snowmobiling. These trails are groomed and patrolled by Lake County Forest Preserve staff and volunteers. Snowmobilers should use caution and watch for trail route signs along all forest preserve snowmobile trails.
The Des Plaines River Trail from Russell Road to just south of Wadsworth Road provides the longest stretch of trail for snowmobilers. Parking and trail access is provided at the Van Patten Woods Canoe Launch on Russell Road east of Route 41 and at Sedge Meadow Forest Preserve located on Wadsworth Road just east of Route 41.
When conditions allow, snowmobile trails are open 6:30 am–11pm, Sunday–Thursday, and 6:30am to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
Ice Skating – Lace up your skates and head to the lake at Independence Grove in Libertyville or the man-made rinks at Lake-wood’s Winter Sports Area and Old School. The shallow rinks typi-cally freeze earlier in the season than the lake at Independence Grove where a 4.5-inch ice layer is required for ice skating.
Ice Fishing – When conditions allow, ice fishing is avail-able at Banana Lake at Lakewood, Sterling Lake at Van Patten Woods, and the South Bay at Independence Grove. A 4.5-inch layer of ice is required for ice fishing.