Homer Lake Interpretive Center

The Homer Lake Interpretive Center, located at Homer Lake Forest Preserve, features a variety of interactive exhibits, displays, live animals and a wildlife viewing area. Come see what we have to offer! The Center is a satellite facility of the District’s Museum of the Grand Prairie. For more information, call (217) 896-2455 or email hlcenter@ccfpd.org

Regular Hours

Weekday Hours
September to May
Tues - Fri 1 - 5 PM
June to August
Mon - Fri 10 AM - 4 PM
Weekend Hours
April to October
Saturday 10 AM - 4 PM

Closed on federal holidays

Please note that staff may be out occasionally teaching programs. If you would like to schedule a group visit, please contact us at least two weeks in advance.

Location

The Center is located at 2573 S Homer Lake Road, just inside the entrance to Homer Lake Forest Preserve.

Directions

From I-74

Take exit 197, and turn south toward Ogden. Go straight through the four-way stop sign in Ogden. About 2 miles south of Ogden, turn right (look for a small brown sign that says ‘Homer Lake’). Take the first left. The entrance to Homer Lake Forest Preserve will be on your right about a half-mile down the road. The Interpretive Center is located just inside the entrance.

East on SR 150 from Urbana

Go through St Joseph. At the four-way stop in Ogden, turn right. About 2 miles south of Ogden, turn right (look for a small brown sign that says ‘Homer Lake’). Take the first left. The entrance to Homer Lake Forest Preserve will be on your right about a half-mile down the road. The Interpretive Center is located just inside the entrance.

West on SR 150 from Danville

At the four-way stop in Ogden, turn left. About 2 miles south of Ogden, turn right (look for a small brown sign that says ‘Homer Lake’). Take the first left. The entrance to Homer Lake Forest Preserve will be on your right about a half-mile down the road. The Interpretive Center is located just inside the entrance.

Group Visits

Due to limited space at the Center, and to ensure that the Center is open, groups are requested to call the Center at least two weeks in advance of your visit. Non-school groups should contact Chelsey Walsh at cwalsh@ccfpd.org or call (217) 896-2455 for more information.

School Groups

Learning experiences at the Center can help you meet your educational goals; we have developed a packet to help you plan a self-guided visit. Contact Stacey Clementz at sclementz@ccfpd.org or (217) 896-2455 for more information.

If you are interested in a staff-led program for your students, please see the School Programs page.

Self-Guided Tours

Download the self-guided packet.

What Else Can I Do?

  • Follow the paved section of adjacent Timberdoodle Trail to find the overlook tower.
  • Set out on a hike with a self-guided trail brochure or enjoy the Letterbox Trail to learn more about the flora and fauna of Homer Lake.
  • The adventurous may want to check out a loan backpack to help you catch insects, observe and identify birds and plants, or test water quality.
  • Check out one of our GPS units and try your hand at geocaching.
  • Visit the Homer Lake Natural Playscape!
  • Learn more about Homer Lake Forest Preserve and plan to make a fun day!

To learn more about the natural and cultural history of the Grand Prairie region, be sure to visit the Museum of the Grand Prairie, located at Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve in Mahomet.

Volunteering and Employment

  • Volunteers: Visit the Education Volunteer page.
  • Each summer, our seasonal staff teach summer day camps and assist with Interpretive Center operations. For more information, see the District’s employment page, or contact Pam Leiter or call (217) 896-2455.
  • We offer a variety of experience-based internships. In the past, interns have assisted with public, school and summer programs, surveyed trail users and more! To learn more, contact Pam Leiter or call (217) 896-2455.

Resources for Loan

The Homer Lake Interpretive Center has these materials available for loan to our visitors:

GPS Units

GPS units are available to enhance your hiking experience. Several geocaches and a geocache trail are located on site. Staff is available to provide a simple tutorial that will have you out hiking in no time!

Borrowing a unit is free; a valid credit card or personal check is required, and will be returned to you upon check-in.

Fishing Poles

Borrow a rod and reel for FREE! Tackle packets are yours to keep. Kids 16 and under are not required to have a fishing license.

Deposit: current driver’s license or state ID. Poles and tackle are provided through the IL DNR Access to Fishing program.

Field Trip Pack

This pack includes many items to assist your young child as they explore nature. Equipment includes dip nets, compasses, field guides, trowels and more! Pack is appropriate for ages 3 and up.

Deposit: $15 refundable deposit required. Field Trip Pack is provided by the IL DNR Division of Education.

Discovery Backpacks

These backpacks are available to enhance your hiking experience. Each pack contains activities to complete along the trail as well as educational equipment (binoculars, pond dipping tools, identification books, magnifiers and more!).

These packs require a refundable deposit. For information, call (217) 896-2455.

Insect Backpacks

Do you want to look for insects but don't know how or don't have the tools? Well, come out to a forest preserve and borrow an insect backpack! Each backpack contains a how-to guide, insect nets, bug boxes, insect guides and much more. They are available at several locations throughout the Preserves: the Homer Lake Interpretive Center, Museum of the Grand Prairie (formerly Early American Museum) and the Headquarters office.

These packs require a refundable deposit. For information, call (217) 896-2455.

Water Quality Kit

This kit is available to teachers and groups interested in learning about water quality in lakes and streams. Each kit contains equipment to test and measure the temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen and nitrogen of the water. Also included: pond dipping nets to investigate the macroinvertebrates of the water, and a binder with indoor and outdoor activities. This loan box is appropriate for 3rd grade to adults.

Fee: $10 and $15 refundable deposit.

Aquatic Invasive Species Loan Box

The Champaign County Forest Preserve District with assistance from the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant developed this loan box to assist educators in making classroom study on aquatic invasives more hands-on and interactive. The box contains aquatic invasive specimens, activities, and information on Illinois invasive species.

Fee: requires a refundable deposit.

Bird Adaptation Loan Box

Birds have different types of beaks, eggs and feet to adapt to their unique lifestyles. Our loan kit can enhance your lessons on bird adaptations. Included are replicas of bird skulls, eggs and tracks, as well as hands-on activities. This kit is appropriate for grades K-12. (Loan box was funded by the Champaign County Audubon Society.)

Fee: requires a refundable deposit.

Animal Advocates

The Center is home to several animals used for educational purposes. By sponsoring one of our animals you support their care. Click here for more information.

Donations Needed!

We currently are accepting donations of birdseed (black oil sunflower seed preferred; no seed mixes with cracked corn please). We could also use clean, kid-sized gloves and hats to provide to students who participate in field trips.

Admission

Cost

No admission fee; donations appreciated.

Parking

Free and accessible.

General Information

Behavior

To safeguard you and your belongings, as well as the exhibits at the Center, certain behavior rules apply.

Accessibility

The Center is wheelchair accessible. Signage is accommodated where possible to persons with low vision. Tactile and audio experiences are incorporated into most exhibits. For our visitors’ convenience, an exhibit booklet is available in the office – it incorporates images and text from the exhibits in an easily accessible format. Alternate activities for some exhibits are also available in the office.