Free events West Ridge Nature Preserve.
Where: West Ridge Nature Preserve (Park No. 568),5801 N. Western Ave.adjacent to Rosehill Cemetery (walk-in entrance on Ardmore; hours: sunrise to sunset). Age Range: Any
Bird Walks Sunday, March 31 and Saturday, April 6, 2019 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. Meet by the front gate.
Bring your own binoculars or use ours if you don’t have them.
May 30, 2019 – Nature hike
September 15 – Nature hike
Ten Fishing Clinics May – August
What Is the West Ridge Nature Preserve?
Who knew such a jewel, undeveloped for 100 years, existed close to the busy intersection of Peterson and Western Avenues? Local residents have long seen it as a secret wilderness, that’s who. They slipped in and out of the 21 acres of woods surrounding a 4-acre pond to watch hawks, herons and fox, spotting the occasional wood duck or coyote.
A decade ago plans were in the works to convert this wilderness into a retail area. In 2005, a congressional earmark funded the acquisition of this land from Rosehill Cemetery.
The acquired land was transferred to the Chicago Park District in 2011. The park district’s renovation has transformed this wilderness into the West Ridge Nature Preserve, an oasis of native flora and fauna.
In 2015, the Chicago Park District and City of Chicago dedicated Park #568 which is known as the West Ridge Nature Preserve. The 21-acre site lies at the northwest corner of Rosehill Cemetery.
One of Chicago’s oldest burial grounds, Rosehill Cemetery was dedicated in 1859. Landscape gardener William Saunders, a national leader in the Rural Cemetery Movement, created Rosehill Cemetery’s original design which included curving drives, swaths of lawn, and several water features.
Through the cemetery’s history, the area at the northwest corner included a pond. Until its recent conversion to parkland, however, the 21-acre site remained an undeveloped part of the cemetery that had never been used for burials. That heavily wooded corner had been used as a dumping ground for excess dirt and debris. After acquiring the site in 2011, the Chicago Park District hired Hitchcock Design Group to create a plan that combines ecological restoration goals with park enhancements.
The improvements include:
- a multi-purpose trail that loops throughout the park
- boardwalks that cross over environmentally sensitive areas
- removal of invasive plants
- the addition of more than 500 native trees and shrubs
- overlooks and fishing access points.