Lake County Cross-Country Skiing

Time to blow the dust of those skis, winter has finally arrived. It seems that January is the month where Lake County gets hit hard with snow. Wouldn’t you rather have a little tom-foolery in the snow rather than driving in it? Would you rather explore the pristine white snow covering lying across Lake County?

Lake County has all of the trails you need to go on your cross-country skiing expedition, while the kids can slide down hills. The snow has already made its presence known in Lake County, and now it’s time to make yours known at the numerous area preserves, parks and hills!

Find Your Winter Sanctuary

Lake County boasts over 130 trails for cross-country skiing. These trails vary from expert down to cross-country skiing 101. Lakewood and Raven Glen Forest Preserves pave trails for those avid cross-country skiers. Ryerson Conservation Area is also a preserve with extensive cross-skiers; however the snow must be above four inches to protect the sanctity of the animal life. Let’s take a look at what other trails that Lake County has to offer.

Cross-country skiing at Ryerson Conservation Area in Riverwoods

Cross-country skiing at Ryerson Conservation Area in Riverwoods


Buffalo Creek

Buffalo Creek obtains four miles for cross-country skiing located near Buffalo Grove and Long Grove. While two miles of trails are in the Southwest corner of Lake County at Cuba Marsh you will cross several creeks to see winter in all entire splendor.

Century Park

While children enjoy the steep hills for tubing and sledding the adults could take to the trails. Century Park is the largest district park in Vernon Hills so you are sure to explore all the nooks and crannies of the entire 113 acres.

Adler Park

On Milwaukee Ave in Libertyville, cross-country skiing is permitted at Adler Park. If you like a tougher work out, Adler Park lets you create your own path. Adler Park also has a big sled hill for tubing.

Des Plaines River Trail

Can you handle a full day of cross-country skiing? Check out the trail spanning as long as 8000 acres, better known as the Des Plaines River Trail. This trail runs just south of the shared Illinois and Wisconsin border. It ends at Lake Cook Road. For safety purposes, skiers are to travel under bridges and underpasses. This trail is adjacent to the Des Plaines River and this lengthy trail stretches 31 miles running through 12 different Lake County Forest Preserves

Grant Woods

On the Northwest side of Lake County located between Rte. 59 and Fairfield Road, Grant Woods features six miles of trails for you to ski west into Fox Lake. This Ingleside forest preserve spans over 1000 acres.

Grassy Lake

This 551-acre forest preserve in southwest Lake County. Grassy Lake’s trail stretches as far of 3.5  miles highlighted by its beautiful scenery. This Barrington trail is wide and obtains a mild inclines.

Half Day

In Vernon Hills, there is 201 acres of land called Half Day Forest Preserve. It’s just North of Half Day Road (Rt. 22). In addition to the trails at Half Day, you have the opportunity to extend your cross-country skiing journey since Des Plaines River Trail runs through the trail.

Independence Grove

Located in Libertyville, is the 1135 acres of land called Independence Grove. This trail sports nearly seven miles of trails for cross-country skiing and other uses.


Greenbelt sits on 558 acres of land located between Waukegan and North Chicago. This forest preserve that is inserted into an urban setting, is also home to the Greenbelt Cultural Center. The trails for cross-country skiing are about four miles long.


Lakewood is Lake County’s largest forest preserve sitting on 2578 acres and is home to the award Lake County Discovery Museum. In addition to cross-country skiing in this Wauconda forest preserve, Lakewood also features trails for snowmobiling. Lakewood is also hosting the Winter Nature Walk/Snowshoe on January 15 from 7:30-8:30 pm. This hike will prepare you for the hilly terrain that this stellar forest preserve has to offer.

Lyons Woods

Between Waukegan and Zion on Blanchard Road is Lyons Woods Forest Preserve. Lyons Woods stretches 264 acres and three miles of trails. The trail serves as a connector to North Shore Path.

McDonald Woods

In Lindenhurst, McDonald Woods sits on 304 acres of land. Take the scenic route in this Northern Lake County trail that has three large lakes and is encompassed with a slew of pine trees.  The entrance and parking can be found on Grass Lake Road.

Middlefork Savanna

Lake Forest’s Middlefork Savanna has four miles of trails to cross-country ski. This southeastern Lake County trail is located on Waukegan Road. Middlefork Savanna stretches 576 acres.

Millennium Trail and Greenway

This trail runs through Wauconda, Mundelein, Lindenhurst, Volo, Lake Bluff and other Lake County cities is expected to stretch as long as 35 miles when the construction is complete. As of now, the trail spans 26.75 miles. Millennium connects with North Shore, Des Plaines River, Lake Bluff and McClure trails.

Oak Spring Road Canoe Launch

This Libertyville area contains trails for cross-country skiing in Wilmot Woods. The Oak Spring Road Canoe launch connects to the Des Plaines River Trail.

Old School

As long as four inches of snow have fallen, you could tube or cross-country ski at Old School located in Libertyville. This three-mile trail joins up with Des Plaines River Trail, where you can discover the  snow covered woods and prairies. The trail also stretches for 1.5 miles around lake. You can also ice skate at this location.

Prairie Wolf Slough

In the summer, Prairie Wolf Slough Forest Preserve in Highland Park spans 20 acres of wetland. When snow is on the ground, this preserve has a 1.75-mile trail for cross-country skiing. If you would rather explore on your own, you have the opportunity as one mile of the nature trail is self-guided. Prairie Wolf is located on Half Day Road.

Rollins Savanna

Rollins Savanna sits on 1225 acres in Grayslake. This centrally located Lake County Forest Preserve has a 5.5-mile cross-country skiing trail that runs over bridges and a boardwalk encircling the preserve. The entrance is located at Washington Street and Atkinson Road.

Ryerson Conservation Area

Cross-country skiing is permitted at this scenic trail when the snow is at least four-inches deep. Ryerson leads through a majestic forest with 6.5 miles of trails for skiers in south east Lake County. The Riverwoods trail attaches to the Des Plaines River Trail. On January 29, the conservation area hosts Ski & Tea at Ryerson Woods. The pace of the cross-country skiing will be determined by the group’s collective ski level. Romantic Night Hike at Ryerson Woods will take place on Valentine’s Day, February 14th, where you and a partner will discover wildlife courtship behaviors on a guided or self-guided tour.

Singing Hills

Singing Hills serves as a 567-acre hub for Millennium Trail and is located in western Lake County near Volo.

Van Patten Woods

Van Patten Woods stretches 991 acres. This Lake County Forest Preserve in Wadsworth contains five miles of cross-country skiing trails and has access to the Des Plaines River Trail.

Wetlands Research Project

Like Van Patten Woods, Wetlands Research Project also is located in Wadsworth. This area expands to 612 acres. The trails on the research project connects to Des Plaines River Trails.

Captain Daniel Wright Woods

Cross-country skiers will enjoy four miles of trails at Wright Woods located in Lincolnshire. Like many of these trails, Wright Woods connect to the Des Plaines River Trail. Wright Woods sits on 402 acres of land. There is also a three-mile loop that circles around a pond.




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