Van Patten Woods Forest Preserve

This forest preserve is nestled along the Illinois Wisconsin border in Wadsworth, Illinois. Lake Sterling and the adjacent Des Plaines River floodplains which attract birds and waterfowl are the highlights of this 975 acre site.



Off Route 173 just east of US Highway 41. A detailed map may be found here.

Distance from Downtown Chicago

51 miles from the center of town

How To Get There

Bike, Walk, Drive


There are accessible parking spaces and restrooms.

Things To Do

Biking, Birdwatching (cranes, egrets, herons, shorebirds), Boating, Camping (Youth Group Only), Cross-Country Skiing, Fishing, Hiking, Horseback Riding, Ice Fishing, Jogging, Model Airplane Field, Picnicking, Running, Snowmobiling and Wildflowers

Fun Facts

A substantial portion of the preserve was once a gravel pit. The preserve was the first county preserve created in Lake County, Illinois and is named after former president of the Lake County Forest Preserves, David Van Patten.

Other Information

The preserve contains restrooms, a playground and water fountains.


A tasty, abundant takeout breakfast may be obtained from The Point Pancake House located at 1952 North US Highway 41 in Gurnee.

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Nearby Public Lands Worth Visiting

Best Time To Visit

Spring, Summer, Fall

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