Forest Preserve District of Will County Purchases Hidden Oaks, Hidden Lakes

Forest Preserve District of Will County Purchases Hidden Oaks, Hidden Lakes
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The Forest Preserve District of Will County has purchased Hidden Oaks Nature Center and Hidden Lakes Trout Farm in Bolingbrook.

The 33-acre-site was formerly owned by the Bolingbrook Park District, which brokered the purchase as a way to reduce its debt. The sale went through for $2.7 million.

Natural Fit

Hidden Lakes Trout Farm photo courtesy: Forest Preserve District of Will County

The acquisition was a natural fit for the forest preserve, as the lake and nature center lie immediately south of the Whalon Lake preserve. The preserve is connected to the two with a DuPage River Trail boardwalk.

“When combined, the Hidden Oaks Nature Center, Hidden Lakes Trout Farm, Whalon Lake preserve and the DuPage River Trail will provide dozens of program opportunities,” said Ralph Schultz, the Forest Preserve District’s executive director, in a press release. “Almost all our programs and events are free to the public and we’re thrilled at the chance to bring additional programming closer to home for the residents of Bolingbrook and surrounding communities.”

Schultz added that the purchase will allow the forest preserve to serve a more populated area, increasing its offerings in northern Will County.

Preservation Ensured

Bolingbrook Park District Executive Director Ron Oestreich said the sale of site will ensure that the area will be preserved and kept open for public use.

In a press release from the Bolingbrook Park District, he said, “It has always been the mission of the park district to provide park and recreation services in a fiscally responsible manner. We feel this sale is the best for the district, our residents and allows for the continued preservation of this important piece of property.”

He noted that the forest preserve intends to keep the names of both the facility and the property the same.

About The Sites

Hidden Oaks Nature Center is an approximately 7,000 square foot building that houses multiple nature exhibits, and classroom and office space. It has a green roof, an outdoor amphitheater, and a large pavilion with a fireplace. The forest preserve plans to reconfigure the interior space, and will create a larger exhibit gallery, a larger upstairs rental space, and an updated reception area. More parking, new signage and new campus exhibits are also in the works.

Hidden Lakes Trout Farm offers four fishing ponds. The bait shop that was there was demolished by the park district in November 2021 to make way for the new one the forest preserve is building, which will be larger and include a concessions stand.

Both the nature center and the lake site are slated to reopen this summer.

Naperville News 17’s Kim Pirc reports.

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photo courtesy: Forest Preserve District of Will County