McKinley Woods is the only place in Will County where you will find a combination of bluffs, deep ravines, and forest. These picturesque features were formed by a morainean accumulation of boulders, stones, and other debris carried and deposited by a glacier. Also among the preserves natural wonders are brilliant spring wildflowers and redbud trees, which throughout Will County are found growing naturally only in McKinley Woods. The core of McKinley Woods was acquired by the Forest Preserve District of Will County in the 1930s and was nearly doubled to 525 acres in the 1990s. An additional 68 acres, formerly known as Moose Island, was added to the preserve in 2003. The portion of McKinley Woods west of the Des Plaines River features the 0.5-mile Heritage Trail and the 1.2-mile Trail of the Old Oaks, which take visitors through bluffs and ravines carved out by a receding glacier. For those looking for a longer hike, a short path leads to the 60-mile I&M Canal State Trail. The site also includes Fredericks Grove, which offers two picnic shelters, one of which was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the 1930s. This access area also features camping facilities, fishing opportunities, and a canoe landing. Improvements to these facilities were completed in 2009, and the picnic shelters will not be available for rental until the summer of 2010. Follow the I&M Canal State Trail north and east of Fredericks Grove, and you will find the Districts newest addition to the preserve, a peninsula in the Des Plaines River. This portion of the preserve also contains shoreline of the DuPage River and I&M Canal, and the Illinois River joins the Des Plaines River just south of the preserve. Hence, the Environmental Education Center opened on the site in 2008 is named Four Rivers, as is the nearby picnic shelter. The Environmental Education Center hosts public programs, school groups, and public rentals. North of Four Rivers is Kerry Sheridan Grove, which was named for a long-serving president of the Districts Board of Commissioners. The grove offers a picnic shelter and a nearby canoe launch, and fishing opportunities are abundant on shorelines throughout the site. Two loop trails on the peninsula lead bicyclists, hikers, and cross-country skiiers through woodlands and wetlands, with beautiful waterfront views. 815-727-8700
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