Forest Glen Preserve
Address: 20301 E. 900 North Rd., Westville IL 61883
Time from Chicago: 3 hours (158 miles)
Camping at Forest Glen Preserve
Not far from Champaign, Illinois, right along the Indiana border, sits the Forest Glen Preserve. At three hours from Chicago, it’s a little further away than some of the other camping spots we’ve written about. But the preserve is not just another campground.
The Forest Glen Preserve has several different camping options, some of which require a hike into the woods. It may not be backcountry camping as we often think of it, but the Tent Campground is comprised of 16 sites in a totally wooded setting that require a walk-in, so backpacking types who find themselves wondering where to go near Chicago will want to check out this preserve.
The modern campgrounds consist of 42 sites, all but eight of which have electric, plus dump stations and a modern shower building, which is also within walking distance for those who use the Tent Campground.
There’s also a Group Campground consisting of six primitive camping spots with pit toilets and an East Camp composed of three sites located 7.5 miles down the River Ridge Backpack Trail. Reservations are required for both of these options.
The River Ridge Back Pack Trail is 11 miles long and provides hikers with a real trail to hike, unlike many other Illinois campgrounds, which offer no more than a mile or two of walking paths. Unfortunately, the park actually requires hikers to fill out an advance registration form to hike on the River Ridge Backpack Trail, and they request a $1 donation per hiker.
As for the rest of the preserve, it consists of beech-maple and oak-hickory forest as well as a 40-acre prairie and a 22-acre savanna restoration area.
The full size of the Vermilion County preserve is 1,800 acres, which is a whole lot of room to camp, hike, play, or watch for birds or wildlife. For good views, check out the 72-foot observation tower. To find out the cost of camping at the various sites within the Forest Glen Preserve, check out their fee breakdown. You can also view the backpack trail map (PDF).
Images: Creative Commons user dmills727