Sugar River Alder Forest Preserve is located on 537.8 acres in the north-western part of Winnebago County. This preserve sits right across the street from Colored Sands Forest Preserve, and the combination of these two beautiful preserves has created a safe-haven for wildlife like birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Chorus frogs, garter snakes, Dekay’s brown snakes, Eastern towhees, field sparrows, and many other species regularly dot the landscape. 

Sugar River Alder Forest Preserve has unique geology due to its vicinity to the Sugar River. The rolling landscape of the preserve is composed of ancient sand dunes, which provide beautiful views of the surrounding undeveloped landscape and support plants that require sandy soil. In addition to dolomite prairie, the geology of this site sustains upland forest, floodplain forest, oak savanna, and prairie savanna. The preserve has 5 miles of hiking trails that bring you through many of these beautiful ecosystems. 

During the late spring, the rolling landscape of Sugar River Alder Forest Preserve is home to wild lupines, which turn the hillsides into a picturesque sea of green and purple. The landscape is also speckled with shooting star flowers, jack-in-the-pulpit, and other beautiful indicators of late spring. 

Sugar River Alder Forest Preserve has picnic tables that overlook Colored Sands Forest Preserve, making it an ideal spot to stop for lunch before heading out on a hike. There are about 8 miles of trails between the two preserves, and they are both definitely worth visiting in May and June when their unique ecosystems get the opportunity to shine.     


Watch this video to learn more about Sugar River Alder Forest Preserve:

Sugar River Alder Forest Preserve is located at: 10255 Haas Road, Shirland, IL 61079

Visit the Forest Preserves of Winnebago County’s page on Sugar River Alder Forest Preserve here

Map of Sugar River Alder Forest Preserve

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