Hike, Picnic, Climb, Play at Dan Ryan Woods  

Dan Ryan Woods has been a popular location for family gatherings and a place to connect to nature for generations. More than $3.5 million has been invested in new amenities at the site in the past six years  

“There is a lot of history here. For more than 100 years, Dan Ryan Woods has been a forest preserve. Our administration has worked with many partners on a Master Plan to reimagine Dan Ryan Woods and write a new chapter,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said. The 267-acre Dan Ryan Woods is among nearly 70,000 acres of the Forest Preserves Cook County.  

Since 2013, Dan Ryan Woods, a signature Gateway Site for the Forest Preserves of Cook County, has renovated and reopened the historic Dan Ryan Pavilion to the public as a venue for indoor special events; transformed a former maintenance building into the new Dan Ryan Visitors Center where local residents can purchase picnic permits; repaired limestone aqueducts south of 87th Street that were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s; and added walking paths and new signs to tell the history of this special place and to help visitors more easily find their way around.  

The most recent additions are popular new exercise stairs near the sledding hill and a multi-faceted nature play area, where children of all ages can make thunder or make music, climb the netting, lounge in a leaning hammock, or look out over the landscape in the Treehouse. Young people in the Forest Preserves’ Youth Outdoor Ambassadors program have developed new nature play programming for kids based in adventure, creativity and citizen science.  

Dan Ryan Woods includes open woodlands and native grasses and wildflowers, and is one Cook County’s popular forest preserves.