Elizabeth H. on E.L. Ryerson Conservation Area Loop...
A beautiful, easy walk in the woods. Bring the bug spray though!
One of the best hikes I can find within 15 minutes of my house. The outer loop makes for a great 2-4 hour hike, depending on your pace. Completed it in about two, but that was going at a good pace to outrun mosquitos! They've been worse this year than any in recent memory. Could easily spend a lot more time exploring. My little buddy on my back had a great time too, and even got to see a couple big bucks with nice antlers that still had some velvet on them!
Great place to hike 1-1.5 hours. Deciduous woods along the upper Des Plaines river. You'll see deer (rather abundant here) along with the normal animals and birds found in northern Illinois. Watch out for roots and fallen trees, especially in fall / winter when the leaves and snow cover these up. The walkways over the flood prone areas are great but if the temp is at freezing or below beware the black ice that builds up. Visitor center is a great place to start to get an idea on the trails and the history of this area.
Great for families with young kids. Lots of short, flat trails so you can walk just about any length you like. The area is apparently a 1930's & 40's-era vacation get-away for a steel tycoon (named Ryerson) and some friends who had log cabins on the Des Plaines river, which are still maintained and on the trails. Ryerson's summer home is also on the property and operates as a small museum / art gallery. Near the welcome center, there is a farm area with sheep, goats, and chicken.
There's not much to offer a hard-core hiker, but this is a wonderful little spot to get away from the city with your kids for the better part of a day.