The Derwen Mawr Nature Preserve is connected to, and part of, the Skokie River Nature Preserve. Conveniently located between West Laurel Avenue and Deerpath, Derwen Mawr has an entrance on each of those roads, with a parking lot on West Laurel which it shares with the Skokie River Preserve. Parking at the Deerpath entrance is at Deerpath Middle School across the street from the trailhead. Developed and maintained by the Lake Forest Open Lands Association (LFOLA), this dog-friendly preserve's western border lies along the Skokie River and features wildlife-filled wetlands, meadows and woods. LFOLA asks that dog owners register their dogs to receive a decal good for parking in their lots.
The trail through Derwen Mawr is mostly composed of a grass surface surrounded by marsh grasses, meadow and trees. The path loops from Rosenfield Meadow, amid pine trees, through Skinner Woods, and on to the open Heffner Meadow. You'll spy turtles, deer and many species of birds, especially during migrating season. The meadows boast wildflowers like lupine and Indian Paint Brush, dotted among native prairie grasses.
Derwen Mawr is open year-round, and winter is no excuse to avoid getting out on the trail. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are available, and the trail is groomed so snow hiking is possible too. They do ask that hikers and snowshoers stay to the side to preserve the cross-country ski tracks. Fewer leaves on trees and grasses tamped down by snow offer furbulous views of the river, with deer and other animals easily seen against the white backdrop.
Dogs should be leashed when in view of other people and animals, and you and your pup should remain on the marked trails and not enter the wetlands or streams. Also be sure to pick up after your dog on your adventures here, and dispose of all waste in the containers provided at the gates.
The Derwen Mawr Nature Preserve is a pawsome spot for some exercise and nature viewing - be sure to bring your binoculars and camera!