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Thorn Creek Nature Center

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THORN CREEK NATURE CENTER                       
247 Monee Road, Park Forest, IL 60466



Forty years ago, June 1978, Thorn Creek Woods Nature Preserve was dedicated as an Illinois Nature Preserve. It is one of the largest forested areas in northeastern Illinois...the fifth largest in the Illinois Nature Preserves system. This large dry mesic oak hickory forest is dominated by 150-year old white and red oak trees with a rich understory of native shrubs, rare plants and spring wildflowers. A walk through the Woods is a 3.5-mile nature adventure. The preserve also features Thorn Creek Nature Center in an 1861 white steepled building, and the historic Hornicek Farm. 

Workday March2018 by Dena Petraitis
Join Friends of Thorn Creek Woods and support the 985 acre Thorn Creek Nature Preserve and its Nature Center. Formed in 1969, Friends efforts ensured permanent protection for this unique open space enhancing Park Forest and the region. Friends volunteers build and repair trails, create exhibits, monitor species, staff the nature center, lead programs, and raise funds for programs and improvements.  Members enjoy a quarterly newsletter and sponsor Earth Day, plus Spring and Fall meetings. Annual family membership is $20 or $50 for an organization; life membership is $200. For more information: 708-747-6320;;; P.O. Box 32, Richton Park, IL 60471.  



Visiting Thorn Creek Woods Nature Preserve

Come visit our oak-hickory woodlands. Our trails are open! It’s been a particularly lovely spring and summer, so please do come and see what nature has to offer.  When visiting remember:

  • Visit alone or with members of your household
  •  Practice social distancing of at least 6 feet
  •  Wear a face covering when unable to social distance

And visit our webpage often…

Unfortunately, Thorn Creek Nature Center will remain closed to the public for the foreseeable future. While this precludes normal public programming, we will be scheduling monthly outdoor programs for limited numbers of participants. These programs will be announced on the following websites: 

  • Thorn Creek Woods - 
  • Forest Preserve District of Will County - 
  • Village of Park Forest -

Our Naturalists continue to work at the nature center and from home. April is working one-on-one with volunteers for trail projects, nature center cleaning and other projects. She can be reached as usual by phone and email: 708-747-6320 and


The Commission is urging members of the public to adopt all outdoor recreation safety measures recommended by the state as they visit Thorn Creek Nature Preserve. Please review the guidelines issued by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources on Thursday, April 23, 2020:

• Bring alcohol-based hand sanitizer (containing at least 60 percent alcohol) and face coverings.

• Practice social distancing by keeping at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others.

• Stay home if you are sick or feeling any symptoms, such as fever, coughing, troubled breathing, and/or flu-like symptoms.

• Visit alone or with members of your household.

• Stay local; visit preserves that are closest to where you live.

• If you arrive at a preserve and crowds are forming, please return another time/day to visit.

• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper arm/elbow.

For information on the coronavirus contact your County Health Department.

Thorn Creek Nature Center 708-747-6320 or ,
Thorn Creek Woods Management Commission



Programs & Events 

Visit our website: 

Wednesday Walkers spring2014 reduced

Fall Colors Walk

Sunday, November 15; rain date Sunday, November 29, 2020. 
Time:  1-3 p.m. 
Fee:  Free.
Ages 18 and older. 9 registrants maximum.
Registration required by Monday, November 9, 2020: 708.747.6320.

Walk the trails of Thorn Creek Woods amidst trees of all species, as they transition from their summer green leaves to shades of red, yellow, orange, gold, russet and even purple – the colors of autumn.  Discover not only why leaves change in the fall, but why different trees turn different colors. Meet in front of nature center. Please bring your own hand sanitizer, face mask, binoculars, water bottle and be prepared to follow the social distancing of 6 feet. Participants should be prepared to walk over 2 miles outdoors on natural surface trails across uneven terrain. 

Soils Hike

Sunday, December 6; rain date Saturday, December 12, 2020. 
Time:  1-3 p.m.

Fee:  Free. 
Ages 18 and older.  9 participants maximum.  
Registration required by Monday, November 30: 708.747-6320.

Is all soil created equal? Come and see, smell and hear for the parts of soil. Learn how soil supports every form of life in the woods. On the hike, we will observe real samples of Thorn Creek Woods soil. Program is sponsored by Thorn Creek Audubon Society. Meet in front of nature center. Please bring your own hand sanitizer, face mask, binoculars, water bottle and be prepared to follow the social distancing of 6 feet. Participants should be prepared to walk more than 1 mile outdoors on natural surface trails across uneven terrain.