Want to convince the kids to go for a hike? Tell them they’ll get to see horses! Our next hiking adventure took us to Danada Forest Preserve in Wheaton, where we found an easy hike with scenic views and of course a chance to see horses!

Looking for more horsey fun? Pair it with a trip to horse-themed playground, Sensory Garden Playground.

Want more places to go hiking? Follow us as we try to conquer the #52HikeChallenge!

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Getting Started at Danada Forest Preserve

After downloading the map, I saw there were two spots for parking. We parked at the lot closest to the Danada Equestrian Center at 3S507 Naperville Road.

Explore a bit

Before our hike, we explored the grounds. (Primarily to find washrooms! Only portapotties, though.) Before visiting I read that the land and the equestrian center were once part of the Dan and Ada L. Rice estate.What was once a working farm became a racehorse-training facility because of Ada Rice’s passion for horse racing. Such an interesting history! Today, you can find the Danada Equestrian Center and the Danada House on the grounds. The Forest Preserve continues on the other side of Naperville Rd. and has the Model Farm, horse track, and Forest Preserve District Headquarters.

Danada House

Get hiking

Find the start of the Regional Trail, a wide limestone path, behind the barn. We followed this trail for a little bit until we found the trailhead to the Nature Trail.  Here we followed this narrow winding trail (making rights whenever it forked) through Parson’s Grove where we saw tons of fallen trees and the beginnings of spring wildflowers popping up. Absolutely gorgeous! The trail rolls slightly throughout so it kept everything interesting.

Head up the hill for the views

Once we found ourselves back on the main wide trail, the Danada-Herrick Lake Regional trail, we made a right for a few minutes. Thanks to a tip I read in one of my books 60 Hikes within 60 Miles of Chicago I found a small footpath on the left leading up to the top of the hill. While not marked, the footpath was pretty evident. After a short climb, we were rewarded with fantastic views of Rice Lake and the surrounding area.

After we made our way back down, we made a right back on the Regional Trail and after a few minutes we found ourselves back at the beginning of the trail. But this time we took the path behind the barn to find the horses.

See the horses

On our visit the horses were out in the pasture enjoying the cloudy yet mild spring day. (The Danada Barn was still closed.) Taking the trail behind the barn, we saw where all the horses were stationed.

Fun fact: The Danada Equestrian Center holds horse lessons and camps. How fun!


  • Hike the rest of Danada Forest Preserve’s trails on the other side of Naperville Road.
  • Continue your horse-themed day and make a left out of the parking lot on Naperville Road to Sensory Gardens in Lisle. There is a horse-themed playground and horse art sculptures. Stay tuned for more on this!
  • Getting hungry or would like a treat? We stopped by Guzman y Gomez for yummy tacos and burritos as well as churro sundaes and yummy horchata. They also have a drive thru so you don’t even need to get out!


Website: https://www.dupageforest.org/places-to-go/forest-preserves/danada
Location: 3S507 Naperville Road, Wheaton, IL
Cost: Free
Parking:  Plenty of parking
Crowded:  We hiked on a Sunday morning and it was not busy.