Homer Lake

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.

Plug Into Nature at Homer Lake Forest Preserve (video)
Welcome to Homer Lake Forest Preserve (video)

Activities include:Fishing, boating, hiking, picnicking, sledding, building rentals, educational programs
Fishing iconBoating iconHiking iconPicnicking iconEducation icon


Homer Lake Forest Preserve opens at 7 AM year-round, weather-permitting. Closing times vary:

1st Monday in April 10 PM
Monday before Halloween 5 PM
Sylvester Woods Sign

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.


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. Horseback riding is not allowed on the trails.

Varying trail lengths appeal to all abilities:

Collins Pond Trail .62 mi
Flicker Woods Trail .94 mi
Oak Ridge Trail 1.90 mi
Sand Beach Cove Trail .68 mi
Timberdoodle Trail 1.20 mi
West Lake Trail 4.60 mi


Salt Fork Center

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

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 Center

The Homer Lake Interpretive 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! Check the Interpretive Center’s webpage and Facebook page for the latest covid updates on our hours and programs.

Interpretive Center Regular Hours

Weekday Hours:

Tuesday – Friday | 1:00 p.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.