Over three-quarters of Greene Valley’s 12 miles of marked trails are open to hikers, bicyclers, horseback riders and cross-country skiers.
Horseback riders should park their trailers on the west side of Greene Road south of 79th Street and should not ride in or around developed recreational areas, such as picnic areas, the Thunderbird Youth Camp and the scenic overlook.
When conditions permit, rangers groom trails for cross-country skiing. Classical cross-country skiers should use the outside of the trail, leaving the inside area for freestyle skiers and other trail users.
Several great picnic spots are located throughout Greene Valley. Picnickers can also reserve the east or west shelter by calling Visitor Services at (630) 933-7248 but must do so at least three business days before their visit.
Ground fires are not allowed, but visitors can bring their own grills and use the on-site hot-coal disposal containers. For everyone’s convenience, Greene Valley offers restrooms with pit toilets and drinking water near the east and west picnic shelters; portable toilets are located at the off-leash dog area, at the top of the scenic overlook and at the Thunderbird Road and south parking lots.
Each of the Thunderbird Youth Camp’s 10 wooded or semiwooded sites, including one that can accommodate up to 100 campers, has its own picnic tables and fire ring. The sites are close to restrooms with pit toilets, drinking water, trash and recycling containers, and firewood. As part of Districtwide efforts to help slow the spread of the emerald ash borer, outside firewood is not allowed.
Open year-round, these camping areas are set aside for use by youth groups. The District defines youth groups as recognized, nonprofit organizations. Only members of these groups and their accompanying leaders may camp in these areas. Camping permits and adult supervision of one leader over 21 years of age for every 10 children are mandatory for campsite use. Groups can reserve sites through Visitor Services at (630) 933-7248 but must do so at least three business days in advance.
Off-Leash Dog Area
Dogs with valid Forest Preserve District permits can enjoy Greene Valley’s fully fenced, 16-acre off-leash area, which is located off Greene Road. It includes separate areas for small and large dogs. Rules for the area are posted at the preserve. Owners must have their dogs’ permits in their possession when in the off-leash area; dogs must be leashed in all other areas of the preserve. The area is open during regular preserve hours; it is closed on Wednesdays until 10 a.m. for routine maintenance. Purchase a permit online or call Visitor Services Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. at (630) 933-7248.
Tree Trek is a 1-mile self-guided hike. Signs along the path point out 11 different trees and give descriptions of their bark, seeds and leaves. For information on how to get started, visit the information sign south of the Thunderbird Road parking lot.
The 190-foot-tall scenic overlook offers a bird’s-eye view of DuPage County and the Chicago skyline and is a great place to picnic, look for migrating birds or participate in regularly scheduled District programs. A road leads from the base of the hill to a parking lot at the top. In addition to great views, this retired landfill provides energy for thousands of area homes from the methane it produces.
The overlook is open to the public on Saturday and Sunday May through October from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m., weather permitting. However, due to Illinois Environmental Protection Agency maintenance and construction activities, the overlook may be closed during these times without advanced notice.
Operators with valid District permits in their possession can fly their nonpowered model gliders and sailplanes at the designated area atop the scenic overlook, when open. Annual and daily permits are available through Visitor Services at (630) 933-7248 weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
When snow conditions allow, dog sledders can use the Thunderbird Spur Trail, which begins at the parking lot on Thunderbird Road. During the rest of the year, mushers can use wheeled training carts up to 4 feet wide on every trail except the Caruso and Hawk trails. For the safety of other forest preserve visitors and the protection of the county’s natural resources, mushers must remain on the trails and travel in a controlled, safe manner.