Harper College

Explore the Great Outdoors

The great outdoors is still open and Harper Campus Rec wants you to take time to get outside and explore. Whether you take a hike in the local woods or go on a day trip to rock climb—make sure you are enjoying the great outdoors. Let us help you with your next outdoor activity for yourself, friends or your family by suggesting a variety of local and regional adventures for you to experience.

Gardens and Arboretums:

Anderson GardenAnderson Japanese Garden, Rockford

Inspired by calm and tranquility, this 12-acre award winning landscape is comprised of koi-filled ponds, winding paths, gentle streams, cascading waterfalls, raked gravel gardens, beautifully trained pines, and more. Master craftsmanship and 16th century traditional architecture is found throughout the garden. Learn more.

Chicago BotanicChicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe

There’s 385 acres and 26 gardens of wonder to explore in all seasons. Climb a waterfall garden, discover hidden rooms inside the English Walled Garden, cross bridges spanning sparkling lakes, the Japanese garden, and discover a garden with trains chugging across bridges and trestles. Learn more.

Klehm WoodsKlehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Rockford

There’s beauty in every season when the trails are cleared for walkers, hikers, cross-country skiers, and snowshoeing. Also available is a 1.8 mile, handicap-accessible paved path that winds through the arboretum, plus many secondary chipped trails. Klehm is dog-friendly and any leashed dog is welcome. Learn more.

Lake Kat

Lake Katherine Nature Center and Botanic Gardens, Palos Heights

Let nature be your guide at Lake Katherine Nature Center and Botanic Gardens. This 85-acre non-profit park and botanic garden includes woodlands, prairie, wetlands, natural gardens, and a 10-acre lake. Naturally a great place to explore, learn and discover some of nature's wonders. Learn more.


Morton Arboretum, Lisle

The Morton Arboretum is the champion of trees, a living museum, and scientific center that is also an engaging 1,700-acre garden with plants from around the world. Enjoy the 16 miles of hiking trails, nine miles of paved walkable roads, the Children's Garden, Maze Garden, or a guided tour on the open air tram. Learn more.

Nan GardenNan Elliot Memorial Rose Garden, Alton

The Nan Elliott Rose Garden at Gordon Moore Park features more than 125 varieties of roses and 1600 rose bushes. The garden has been noted as one of the best in the region, and it is a beautiful site for weddings. Learn more.

Stone HillStone Hill Farm Healing Gardens, St. Charles

The Stone Hill Farm Healing Gardens features gardens to reconnect with nature. Each garden has a different theme. Every garden has a story—a lesson learned in Deborah's healing journey. It is her honor to provide a sanctuary for others to continue on their own path of learning, growing and discovery. Learn more.

Forest Preserves:

Mental Health Awareness Month text with green ribbonBlackwell Forest Preserve, Warrenville

Hikers, bicyclers, horseback riders, and cross-country skiers can enjoy more than 6 miles of turf and limestone trails, including a convenient route to the Illinois Prairie Path. Trails around the McKee Marsh area feature two observation decks, a bird blind, and signs that describe the history and ecological significance of the marsh. Learn more.

Deer Grove

Deer Grove Forest Preserve, Palatine

At almost 10 miles in length, the hiking trails are split into two very individual areas. The east preserve features open wetlands surrounded by old fields and an in-progress savanna and prairie restoration. The west side is wilder, the forest denser and crisscrossed with footpaths along the rolling terrain. Learn more.

FullersburgFullersburg Woods Forest Preserve, Oak Brook

The trail is good for all skill levels and offers a number of activity options. Nearly all of the hike follows Salt Creek as it winds around the bluff and past a few islands on its way to the historic watermill at the south tip of the park. Learn more.

Half dayHalf Day Forest Preserve, Vernon Hills

This quiet and clean preserve features a 1-mile trail for hikers, bicyclists and cross-country skiers, three beautiful picnic shelters, a 3-acre pond for fishing, open playfields, and a playground. Half Day Forest Preserve is also the starting point for the Des Plaines River Trail which links this preserve to the Wright Woods Forest Preserve. Learn more.

Lake countyLake County Forest Preserve, Libertyville

Enjoy over 205 miles of trails, ponds and lakes for fishing, public golf courses, historical and cultural venues, public access to Lake Michigan and the Fox River, and award-winning nature and history education programs and events. Most preserves are open from 6:30 a.m. to sunset, daily. Learn more.

Busse woodsNed Brown Forest Preserve, (Busse Woods), Elk Grove Village

The 3,558-acre Ned Brown Preserve is one of the largest and most diverse locations in the Forest Preserves. The site includes ancient upland forests, one of the largest fishing and boating waters in Cook County, nearly 13 miles of paved trail, an elk pasture and much more—making it one of the best-used natural areas in Illinois. Learn more.

State Parks and National Forests:

Anderson GardenGiant City State Park, Makanda

Giant City is an outdoor lover's paradise! Enjoy, hiking, biking, horseback riding, fishing, and more. Visitors of all ages can enjoy the breath taking views, especially popular is the Giant City Nature Trail, home of the "Giant City Streets" - huge bluffs of sandstone formed 12,000 years ago. Learn more.

Anderson GardenShawnee National Forest, Harrisburg

The Forest’s landscape features rolling hills, open lands, lakes, creeks, and rugged bluffs. The mild weather makes a visit during any season enjoyable. The Shawnee National Forest is famed for its awesome Garden of the Gods, and is home to the Rim Rock Recreational Trail (a system of 403 miles of equestrian/hiking trails). Learn more.

Anderson GardenStarved Rock, Utica

Seasonal waterfalls, awe-inspiring bluffs, and rugged canyons dominate the storied landscape at Starved Rock. Rich with history and beauty, Starved Rock’s hiking trails meander through towering trees and scenic overlooks along the Illinois River. Outdoor activities include hiking, canoeing, paddle boats, and cross-country skiing. Learn more.

Last Updated: 4/8/24