Natural Areas

Butternut Preserve

1540 Ballard Rd, Entrance off Butternut Drive - 10 Acres

Butternut Preserve, located just west of West Elementary School, offers passive recreational use, nature trails and two foot bridges. A branch of the Kishwaukee River meanders through the park and a restored prairie is located along Ballard Road.

Cress Creek Property

Between St. Andrews and Barlina Roads - 2.5 Acres

Cress Creek offers an unpaved bike path/walk way along Cress Creek and through a wooded, natural setting.

Oak Hollow Park

844 Oak Hollow Rd, North of the Pingree Road Metra Station - 3 Acres

This small area provides a walking path and grassy area for passive use - very convenient for commuters! Mature oak trees fill the hilly western half of the park .

Prairie Ridge Conservation Area

Off of Hillside Road, east of Walkup Road - 57 acres

Prairie Ridge Conservation Area is a passive use area located in the Squaw Creek neighborhood, east of Prairie Ridge High School. It is accessible only by foot. The park offers a rugged walking trail surrounding the ponds and Sleepy Hollow Creek. No fishing or boating is allowed on the ponds.


6204 Hillside Road, Crystal Lake - 23 acres

Shamrock Hills is a newly acquired property which was donated to the Crystal Lake Park District by the Heraty Family. Shamrock Hills has rolling hills, large shade trees, and three ponds for fishing. A grand home, garage and barn are located on property. Canoeing and fishing programs are offered at this site. There is no public access at this time.

Sterne's Woods and Fen

5617 Hillside Road, East of Walkup Road - 185 Acres

A beautiful retreat to nature, Sterne's Woods was added to Illinois' list of Nature Preserves in 1994, which ensures a high level of protection to the natural areas. It welcomes nature enthusiasts to wander through its woodlands with a system of rugged walking trails, marked paths for biking, cross country skiing and wagons rides in the fall. McHenry County's Conservation District's Prairie Trail South passes through Sterne's Woods and Veteran Acres Park. A nearby parking area, picnic shelter and restroom makes this woodland easily accessible and convenient.

Sunset Meadows Park

1350 W. Route 176, Corner of Briarwood Rd. and Route 176 - 162 Acres

Sunset Meadows Park is a large open space located within the watershed of Crystal Lake. Currently being farmed, the park is protected from dense development that would harm the water quality of Crystal Lake. There is no public access at this time.

Willows Edge Park

1000 W. Ackman Rd, Corner of Ackman and Huntley Roads - 44 Acres

Willows Edge Park is a passive recreation area with a paved walking/biking trail, several ponds and natural areas. The park connects to Sterling Meadows Park and is across Ackman Road from Woodscreek Park. Three tot-oriented, nature themed play areas are located along the walking path. These play pockets are part of a national demonstration project titled 'Pathways to Play'.

Winding Creek Park & Bike Path

Access from Alexandra Blvd. or Penny Lane - 11 Acres

The Winding Creek Bike Path starts on Miller Road, near Randall Road and travels north for a total of 3.5 miles until it terminates on Huntley Road in Willows Edge Park. Along the route are Winding Creek Park (a small open lawn area), Fetzner Park, Woodscreek Park, Sterling Meadows Park and Willows Edge Park.

Wingate Prairie

366PR Lorraine Dr, Veteran Acres Park - Illinois Nature Preserve - 39 Acres

Wingate Prairie is 39 acres of a very rare gravel hill prairie. The natural area is precious because only 59 acres of gravel hill prairie are known to exist in Illinois. In 1994, the Illinois Nature Preserve Commission designated the prairie as an Illinois Nature Preserve. Only sites with statewide ecological value are considered for this highest level of protection under Illinois law. This unique prairie land, with its rolling terrain, oak savanna and conifer groupings, is home to several rare and endangered plant and animal species including the Prairie Buttercup, Pinweed, Queen of the Prairie, Pale Vetchling, Purple Flowering Raspberry, Silvery Blue Butterfly, and the Franklin Ground Squirrel. During its active months from spring to fall, the prairie is in constant bloom. Nature lovers are welcomed by hiking trails that are moderate to very hilly that meander through the prairie. From hill to hollow, the type of native vegetation waiting to be discovered varies. A flat moraine at the northern end of the site is home to yet another variety of plants not requiring the well-drained soil of the hills or the damp hollow areas.