4 Unique Places In Lake County To See Fall Foliage


Michael Alloian

In this article, you will find four exceptional places in Lake County to see fall colors. As October progresses and November gets closer, the days will continue to get shorter, and the temperature will get colder. These factors will affect the trees, by changing the colors of the leaves and eventually the tree will shed its leaves. The leaves start to change color usually in mid-October, but in the midwest and pacific northwest the process starts in mid to late September. The best time to see fall colors in northern Illinois is mid October, so mark your calendars for a weekend-getaway to these places in Lake County to see fall foliage.

Before we start the list, we should learn about the process of how fall colors happen. In the spring, the temperature starts to warm up and the sun comes out more, which prompts the trees to start producing a chemical called chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the food source for leaves, and so the leaves start to grow and become green. Then, throughout the sunny days of summer, the trees keep producing chlorophyll, and the trees stay green. Then, usually in September or October, the temperatures start to drop and the amount of sunny days declines. Trees need sunlight to produce chlorophyll, and when the sun isn’t out as much, they stop producing chlorophyll. When this happens, the present chlorophyll breaks down, which makes the green color go away, and reveals the stunning yellow, orange, and red colors of the leaves.

Now, here are four unique places in Lake County to see fall colors.

The Prairie Crossing Neighborhood in Grayslake

(Prairie Crossing fall colors from October 6, 2022. )

Prairie Crossing is a conservation community located on the east side of Grayslake. The neighborhood webs out from Prairie Crossing Charter School, a charter school focused on the environment and sustainability. The neighborhood is filled with biking and walking trails that connect to the Casey Trail which connects to the Des Plaines River Trail south of Independence Grove. Prairie Crossing is also a short bike ride away from downtown Grayslake, so go on a quick morning bike ride around Lake Leopold and then stop in downtown Grayslake for lunch. The neighborhood is known for having prairies, a wide variety of trees, and a forty-acre man-made lake named after Aldo Leopold, a famous conservationist.

Waukegan Municipal Beach in Waukegan

The Waukegan Municipal Beach is located at the Waukegan lakefront on Lake Michigan. The length of the beach is one mile and North Beach is directly north. Although the beach does not have many trees, the existing trees change color simultaneously. The beach has other activities besides swimming, including picnicking, soccer, and sand volleyball. A short walk from the beach is the Waukegan Marina which has restaurants and the 800-foot government pier. Downtown Waukegan is also within walking or biking distance from the marina and beach.

Old School Forest Preserve in Libertyville


Old School Forest Preserve is located off of St. Marys Road in eastern Libertyville. The forest preserve has numerous trails for hiking, biking, and walking, as well as a paved trail for vehicles. There is an 80-foot hill that is a popular place for sledding in the winter. Old School is a 5-minute drive or 15-minute bike ride from downtown Libertyville, so go on a mid-day hike and stop downtown for an early dinner. Old School Forest Preserve Sledding Hill on October 9, 2022.

Independence Grove Forest Preserve in Libertyville

Independence Grove Forest Preserve is in northern Libertyville. Independence Grove has many trails for biking and walking which connect to the Des Plaines River Trail and Casey Trail, and it has a 115-acre man-made lake made from a quarry. The lake is open for kayaking and canoeing in the spring, summer and fall, and in the winter it’s available for skating, skiing, and ice fishing. There is also room for picnicking and grilling. Since Independence Grove has many options for things to do, it is a popular nature preserve year-round. Independence Grove is also down the street from downtown Libertyville, so it is an easy walk or bike ride to shops, restaurants, and museums.