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Homer Lake Forest Preserve

Link to Lake of the Woods Map

Wildlife and natural beauty abound in the 814 acres at Homer Lake Forest Preserve near Homer, Illinois. From sledding when the snow falls to fishing and boating in the summer months, Homer Lake is a beautiful setting for visitors to get away for some relaxation.

Homer Lake Forest Preserve has several significant historical connections. The county highway bordering the north end of the preserve was the horse trail Abraham Lincoln traveled when he served on the 8th Judicial Circuit. A Looking for Lincoln wayside exhibit now marks the location. The preserve also includes the 14-acre site once known as Homer Park, a popular "destination park" on the Salt Fork River in the early 1900s.

Homer Lake Forest Preserve opens at 7 AM year-round, weather-permitting. Beginning the first Monday in April, the preserve closes at 10 PM, and the first Monday before Halloween, the closing time moves to 5 PM.

With approximately 10 miles of trails, this preserve is a favorite for hikers. Trails cross grasslands, prairies and woodlands, and hikers can walk along the Salt Fork River or around the secluded Collins Pond. Opportunities abound for nature study or bird-watching.

Varying trail lengths* appeal to all abilities:
  Collins Pond Trail
  Flicker Woods Trail
  Oak Ridge Trail
  Sand Beach Cove Trail
  Timberdoodle Trail
  West Lake Trail
  *Lengths are in miles.  

The Salt Fork Center, rented frequently for gatherings, overlooks beautiful Homer Lake. Nearby is a boat dock, outdoor amphitheater and system of interpretive trails.

Walnut Hill Shelter is another popular building for picnics. It also overlooks the lake and is next to the preserve's play area.

Homer Lake Interpretive CenterThe Homer Lake Interpretive Center (formerly Environmental Education Center) is located just inside the entrance to the preserve. This facility features live animals, interactive displays, and a wildlife viewing area, complete with bird feeders, a microphone and shaded glass. Visitors of all ages will find plenty to do! For more information, please click here.

Interpretive Center Regular Hours*

Weekday Hours:
September – May
Tues – Friday | 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

June – August

Monday – Friday | 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Weekend Hours:
April – October
Saturday | 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Closed on Federal Holidays

*Please note that staff may be out occasionally teaching programs. If you would like to schedule a group visit, please call ahead.

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