Originally slated to be the site of a 200-acre dragon-shaped lake with a swim beach and campground, today, the 1,829-acre Springbrook Prairie Forest Preserve in Naperville is instead one of three regionally significant grassland bird communities in the state and home to species like meadowlarks, dickcissels, grasshopper sparrows, woodcocks, and bobolinks as well as state-endangered northern harriers, short-eared owls, and Henslow's sparrows.
A stream re-meandering project has created twists and turns and a wider, shallower bank along the namesake Spring Brook. These changes have slowed the flow of water, improving aquatic habitat and allowing the brook to more easily pour over its banks and into the preserve during heavy rains, a valuable flood-control feature for nearby residents.
A reservable shelter is at the 83rd Street trailhead. A second, smaller nonreservable shelter is on the west side of Plainfield- Naperville Road near the parking lot.
Ground fires are prohibited, but visitors may bring their own grills and use the on-site hot-coal disposal containers.
For everyone's convenience, Springbrook Prairie offers drinking water and restrooms with flush toilets at the 83rd Street trailhead and restrooms with pit toilets at the Naperville-Plainfield Road parking lot.
Within the nature preserve area, dogs, horses and bicycles must remain on the maintained trails.
The off-leash dog area, model-aircraft field and picnic areas are not part of the nature preserve and will continue to operate without restriction.
Over 7 miles are open to hikers, bicyclists, horseback riders, and cross-country skiers; 2 miles of narrow, mowed trails allow visitors, except bicyclists, a closer view of the preserve's natural features. Sections of the trail may be closed during key bird breeding seasons to protect critical nesting habitats.
Dogs with valid Forest Preserve District permits can enjoy Springbrook Prairie's off-leash area at the 83rd Street trailhead. Owners must have their dogs' permits in their possession when in the off-leash area. Applications for annual and daily permits are available through Visitor Services at (630) 933-7248 weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Rules for the off-leash area are posted at the preserve. Dogs must be on leashes no greater than 10 feet in length in all other areas of the preserve, including the parking lots.
Operators with valid District permits in their possession can use the model-aircraft field on the west side of Plainfield-Naperville Road.
Annual and daily permits are available through Visitor Services at (630) 933-7248 weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Senior citizens are entitled to one free annual permit per calendar year.