VISIT & explore

The best hikes to see fall color

Looking for a special spot to experience the height of fall color? Check out these staff suggestions for the best places to enjoy the color of autumn leaves.
East Side
To fully appreciate an Illinois fall, don’t miss the Oak Collection near parking lot P-8. Meander past the Strength Bench and take in these majestic trees as they show off their colors, from flaming reds to bronze-like russets to sunny yellows and even burgundy purples.
Looking for the vibrant yellows of our sugar maples? Hike the trail that joins Main Trail Loops 2 and 3 on the East Side. This route will wind you through the Maple Collection, as well as the beeches and oaks. Accessible via parking lots P-8 or P-14.
Ready to go deeper into the East Woods? The Main Trail Loop 4 from P-10 to P-13 is rich with sugar maples. And the fun continues down Main Trail Loop 2 from P-14 to P-16.
See how the other half of the world experiences fall in the Asian collections. Try parking at P-18 and walk northeast to see the many Asian maples in our collections.
West Side
Many don’t think of the prairie when they think of fall color, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the blooming asters and the changing colors of the grasses in the Schulenberg Prairie. Accessible via P-25.
As the sun begins to set, head towards Sterling Pond. As the light settles on the colorful leaves, the trees look radiant. On a calm day, you will see a beautiful reflection of the natural landscape in the water. Be sure to bring a camera. Accessible via P-28.
For more water views, look for the Freeman maple on the north shore of Lake Marmo, which is spectacular in the fall. Keep your eyes open for the golden needles on larches and the reds and browns of the oaks. Accessible via P-27.