Summer Adventures at the Champaign County Forest Preserves

Summer Adventures at the Champaign County Forest Preserves

Activities in the Preserves

06/21/2024 | Stacey Clementz, Youth Programs Manager at Champaign County Forest Preserve District

Summer is here, which is the perfect time to come together with family and friends.  The best part is you don’t have to go far or spend a lot of money to create meaningful memories. This summer, let the Champaign County Forest Preserves provide the perfect backdrop for your unforgettable outdoor experiences. 

At the forest preserves, there is no shortage of recreational activities to enjoy. Throughout the preserves, you will have plenty of opportunities to fish in ponds, lakes, and rivers. If you don’t have access to a fishing pole, you can check one out at the Homer Lake Interpretive Center for the day. We will provide a rod and reel; you just need to provide the bait. Another way to get out on the water is by coming out to Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve on a Saturday or Sunday and renting a pedal boat or kayak. 

While at Lake of the Woods, check out the 18-hole, certified Audubon Sanctuary golf course. This is a golf course that protects our environment and preserves the natural heritage of the game. You could also try foot golf, a sport in which you kick a soccer ball into a cup using the fewest kicks possible. 

If you are looking for a longer stay, the Middle Fork River Forest Preserve offers camping. All sites have electricity and are scattered among a forest ecosystem. There is a swim beach and easy access to the Middle Fork River. This preserve is also Illinois’ first and only Dark Sky Park, one of the darkest spots in the county, perfect for stargazing. 

In addition to these outdoor adventures, the Forest Preserves host an array of summer concerts. Come experience live music against the backdrop of our scenic preserves with our summer concert series, featuring talented local artists and bands. 

If you are looking for a more guided experience, we have programs and events throughout the county for everyone! From nature hikes to historical programs, outdoor concerts to stargazing, many of our programs are FREE! And open to all ages and abilities. We’re sure you’ll find something for everyone. NEW this year is our Summer Splash event on July 27 at Lake of the Woods. We are partnering with the Upper Sangamon River Conservancy for an exciting, family-friendly event. There will be fishing, canoeing, kayaking, exhibits, food trucks, and more. 

The Champaign County Forest Preserves are not just destinations for outdoor recreation but hubs of community connection and cultural enrichment. Come join us as we celebrate the beauty of summer and the wonders of nature, creating unforgettable memories and fostering a deeper appreciation for the world around us. For more information on all the activities, events, and amenities available, visit our website at We look forward to seeing you this summer!