Forest Faves: Canyon Creek Falls at Waterfall Glen
Rangers spend countless hours exploring our preserves, so it’s not surprising that they each have their favorite spot to stop and enjoy the scenery. Ranger Ray Soszynski favors Canyon Creek Falls at Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in Darien. It’s the only natural waterfall in DuPage County. When the waterfall is running, Soszynski finds the movement of the water very soothing. It’s a tranquil and peaceful must-see spot for all.
Soszynski said the best time to visit Canyon Creek Falls is right after a heavy rain, when the water is running full-speed. Another great time to visit is in the winter when the water is frozen and sports picturesque icicles.
This natural waterfall is one of the best-kept secrets about the mere 2,492-acre Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve; the better-known Rocky Glen waterfall is much more popular.
Canyon Creek Falls can a little tricky to find, but it’s worth the effort. Soszynski recommends parking in the Lemont Road parking lot and hiking a mile along the service drive and past the swing gates. Look for the first telephone pole and enter the pathway pictured above on the other side of the drive. Soszynski cautions visitors to be careful as they make their way down the path, as it's a little steep and tricky to navigate. Wear sturdy hiking shoes for this trek.
During Soszynski’s off time in the preserves, he enjoys hiking along Waterfall Glen’s 11 miles of limestone trails and turf-covered routes. Waterfall Glen also offers several other activities, including, fishing, youth-group camping, an orienteering course and a model-airplane field.
Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve is one of the most ecologically impressive parcels of open space in the District, if not northern Illinois. The preserve’s prairies, savannas and oak-maple woodlands contain 740 native plant species, 75 percent of all the plants known to grow naturally in DuPage County. As a result of this rich variety, more than 300 species of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles and another 300 invertebrates use this forest preserve either year-round or during their migrations.
The impressive topography of Waterfall Glen, made up of ridges and scattered potholes are a result of the Wisconsin Glacier. In fact, the entire Des Plaines River Valley was formed by glacial meltwaters and drainage from a postglacial lake that covered most of the Chicagoland area.
The preserve is also home to its Bluff Savanna, one of the highest ranked conservation areas in the county and the District’s largest continuous tract of woodlands. Birds such as woodpeckers and broad-winged hawks can be seen flying around.