The Dan Ryan Woods is a classic Chicago park and a pawsome resource for area dog owners. Located on Chicago's South Side, the huge 257-acre park has seen generations of Chicagoans have come here to go sledding in the winter and to get together for picnics in the spring and summer. There are several miles of trails in the Dan Ryan Woods, including the first two miles of the Major Taylor Trail, which runs through a forested section of the park and continues for about six more miles beyond the park's boundary. Elsewhere, rolling lawns serve as great places for resting and playing. Other park amenities include an amphitheater, a visitor's center, covered picnic pavilions, and clean bathrooms.
While the Dan Ryan Woods is a site known for family fun and human-friendly amenities, part of its appeal for people with four-legged companions is its wildness. One of very few forest preserves within the Chicago city limits, it was originally set aside a hundred years ago to preserve the area's unique bluffs, woods, and wetlands from development. To this day, it retains untrammeled wild spaces including swamps, groves of red and white oak, and open prairie. Wildflowers you might find here include wild geranium, jack-in-the-pulpit, trout lily, trillium, and Virginia waterleaf. The Dan Ryan Woods is also prime birdwatching territory. Rose-breasted grosbeaks, scarlet tanagers, and several species of warblers are among the species spotted in these forests.
Like most cities in the Midwest, Chicago lies on territory that was shaped by glaciers during the Ice Age. Much of what is now Chicago was once the bottom of a vast glacial lake. The Dan Ryan Woods includes Blue Island, named for the fact it was one of the few pieces of land that rose above the water. Now, it's one of the highest points in the Chicago area, and a great vantage point for views of the city and the surrounding countryside.
Be sure to bring clean up bags and water for your adventure, and keep your pup securely leashed throughout this vast area.
You and your pup will feel connected to something deep here that will refresh you when you need a break from the hustle of modern life.