McDowell Grove Forest Preserve

West Dr. • Naperville, IL 60563


In the 1930s, McDowell Grove was a camp for the Civilian Conservation Corps - a work-relief program part of President Roosevelt's New Deal legislation - which built bridges, picnic areas, a boathouse, bridle paths and a limestone dam on the West Branch of the DuPage River. During World War II, the site served as a secret installation for developing radar technology.

Today, the 465-acre McDowell Grove Forest Preserve in Naperville is comprised of mature woodlands, open fields with eastern bluebirds and Cooper's hawks, and a floodplain forest with towering butternuts and black maples. It's recently been the site of a dam- modification project, which will return the stretch of river to a healthier, more natural waterway and improve aquatic habitats.

Additional Pictures


  • Picnicking - Picnickers can reserve either the 25-person shelter along the river or the 150-person picnic area to the southeast through Visitor Services at (630) 933-7248 but must do so at least three business days before their visit. Ground fires are prohibited, but visitors may bring their own grills and use the on-site hot-coal disposal containers. For everyone's convenience, McDowell Grove offers a water pump and portable toilets.
  • Trails - McDowell Grove features nearly 7 miles of looped turf and limestone trails for hikers, bicyclists, cross-country skiers and horseback riders. The trails connect to the Regional Trail, which links with four other preserves.
  • Fishing - Anglers can access the 22-acre Mud Lake and the West Branch of the DuPage River from McDowell Grove Forest Preserve. The state has stocked the river with smallmouth bass for catch-and-release fishing. Anglers will find catfish, bass, carp, sunfish and bluegill in Mud Lake.
  • Dogs - Dogs are welcome at McDowell Grove but must be on leashes no greater than 10 feet in length.
  • Boating - Paddlers can access the West Branch of the DuPage River near the Fawell Dam. They can reach the put-in and take-out sites via a gravel access road off Raymond Drive. Parking is not available at this location.