Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville, Illinois is easily the
most scenic forest preserve in Dupage County. While only 1,367
acres, the combination of rolling hills and the sparkling Silver
Lake offers a treat for the eye. Blackwell is seen as two distinct
halves: the hill and wooded Silver Lake portion and the McKee
Marsh portion. Mckee Marsh is bordered by prairie and scattered
woodlands. The preserve is open one hour after sunrise to one
hour after sunset.
The landscape of Blackwell formed 12,000 to 15,00
years ago by retreating glaciers. The effect was an atypical Illinois
topography of hills dipping down into marshes and prairies. Most
of Illinois is pretty darn flat, and the hills of Blackwell make
for a nice escape. One famous hill known as Mt Hoy used to be
a trash dump, but now it is relegated to an exercise route and
an tubing trail in the winter.
Blackwell also has a storied history of wildlife. The skeleton
of a woolly mammoth was found during the restoration of McKee
Marsh in 1977. The marsh is known for excellent bird watching.
Keep your eye out for rare migratory traveling through the marsh.
Mckee Marsh also offers an interpretive trail and a bird blind
for observing wildlife. The fall is also an excellent time to
watch migrating raptors from the top of Mt. Hoy.
The main fishing pier at Blackwell.
Fishing at Blackwell is one of the most popular(if not the most)
activities. You can always find some die hard fishermen working
the shoreline of one of the scenic lakes. Silver Lake allows for
battery powered motors. You can also rent a boat from the rental
building adjacent to the main Silver Lake parking lot at the main
entrance. Silver Lake is a comfortable 62 acres and 35 feet deep;
it is not like other area lakes. Silver Lake is clean and clear.
Those wanting to cast a line can find walleye, rainbow trout,
northern pike, bluegill, catfish, crappie and largemouth bass
swimming the waters. The rainbow trout are stocked in spring.
They stay at the bottom when spring passes, opting for the cooler
water. There are two floating piers on Silver Lake you can fish
from. Fishing is not permitted on the boat docks. Also of interest
is White Pine Pond. This nine acre pond with a depth of 15 feet
holds catfish, largemouth bass, crappie and sunfish. Those wanting
less fishing pressure may focus on the north side of this pond
along the pine trees. Also, for less fishing pressure on Silver
Lake, consider the steep western side. Blackwell is also open
to ice fishing, but please use common sense in regards to ice
thickness. The Forest District recommends a minimum of four inches.
A boat dock at Blackwell Forest Preserve.
With such a beautiful lake, you might want to bring a boat. Blackwell
allows for non-gas powered watercraft up to twenty feet. You will
need a Forest District private-boating permit which is available
at Forest Preserve headquarters and the Blackwell boat rental
Campground information center at Blackwell.
Blackwell has a really nice campground. However,the nice campground
is hampered by strange hours. The campground is only open Friday
and Saturday from May to September. The campground is also open
during Fourth of July week, and on extra days around other holidays.
I'm not sure the reason for the peculiar hours, but there you
have it. The facilities are good, ranging from restrooms with
showers and even electric hookups for some sites. There are sixty
sites total, each offering a picnic table and fire ring. Some
of the campgrounds are close to running water, trash bins and
latrines. With the wonky hours, you will definitely want to call
for a permit at (630) 933-7248. Also, for a free campground tour
for your iPod or computer, email webmaster at parkcamper.com with
the subject line of "Blackwell campground tour".
Blackwell has twelve designated youth group campsites. These areas
are only open to recognized, nonprofit organizations. Call (630)
933-7248 for permit information.
Blooming flora at Blackwell Forest Preserve.
Blackwell is home to seven miles of trails. I've hiked these
numerous times and I can tell you they are some of the nice trails
in the Illinois forest preserve system especially when you consider
the high population densities of this area. 3.6
miles of these trails can be used for horseback riding, cross
country skiers and cyclists.
Another cool feature of Blackwell is all the picnic tables surrounding
Silver Lake. I often see families taking advantage of these. The
scenery really is as good as it gets around Chicago. Many of the
picnic tables have wide open views. The only negative is the wind.
Because of the open nature, a pleasant picnic can turn into a
game of chase the plates.
Two fishermen enjoy Blackwell at sunset.
Those who wish to bring their dogs to Blackwell can enjoy the
off-leash dog area. This area is at the south end of Mack Road.
The off-leash area opens at 9 a.m. on Mondays, but follows the
regular Blackwell hours the rest of the week. Users need to have
valid dog permits to use the off-leash area. You can call 630)
933-7248 for more information. All other areas in Blackwell require
your dog be leashed.
If you live in the Warrenville, Naperville and Wheaton area you
owe it to yourself to visit Blackwell Forest Preserve. It really
is the crown jewel of the Dupage County Forest Preserve system.
For campers driving through Illinois to other places, Blackwell's
close proximity to the major east-west Interstate 88(just two
miles or so) makes it a convenient place to sleep for the night.
Just remember the campground is only open on weekends and Fourth
of July week. Campers will want to exit I-88 at Winfield Road
and then take a right on Winfield Road to Butterfield Road. You
will spend about one minute on Butterfield road, then look for
the Blackwell entrance sign on the right.
A trail of white pine on the western side of Blackwell