Looking to snowshoe near Chicago? Bring the family to these places in the Chicago area that offer snowshoes for free or cheap!

One of the best ways to embrace the winter’s beauty is by getting out and exploring by snowshoe. Not only can you experience the beauty of nature, but it’s fun AND also a great workout! Not ready to commit to buying snowshoes? No worries! There are plenty of places around the Chicago area that offer them for free or super cheap! Here are the best places to snowshoe near Chicago.

Where to snowshoe near Chicago

Crabtree Nature Center

New to snowshoeing? Head to the .2 miles Giant’s Hollow Trail to see if you like it. It’s close enough to the Nature Center to return the snowshoes if you decide to ditch it. Read all about our snowshoe adventure here.

Tip: The kids will want to ditch the snowshoes when they see the Nature Play area.

Where: 3 Stover Rd., Barrington Hills
Cost: Free
Notes: First come, first-served. Call 847-381-6592 for trail conditions first.

Spring Valley Nature Center

Explore Spring Valley’s winter wonderland. Trek over to the Merkle cabin (1/2 mile) or the Volkening Heritage Farm (2/3 mile). Once those snow shoes are off, hang out at the favorite, Bison’s Bluff. 

Where: 1111 E. Schaumburg Road, Schaumburg
Cost: $5/pair for one hour of use
Notes:  Reservations required by calling Spring Valley (847-985-2100). Limited supplies available.

Springbrook Nature Center

Explore any (or all) of the Nature Center’s trails. All our under a mile which are perfect for beginners!

Where: 130 Forest Avenue, Itasca
Cost: $5/pair for one hour of use
Notes:  Available only on Saturdays & Sundays from 11- 5 p.m. Latest checkout time is 3:30 p.m.. Must be returned by 4:30 p.m. Bring your ID. Dog-friendly but must remain leashed.

River Trail Nature Center

Credit: River Trail Nature Center

Snowshoes are first come. They must be returned by closing time at 4 p.m. and must be used on the forest preserve property. Bring an ID you can hold until you return the gear.

Where: 3120 Milwaukee Ave, Northbrook
Cost: Free
Notes: First come, first-served. For more information, call (847) 824-8360.

Lincoln Marsh

The relatively flat trails at Lincoln Marsh are perfect for snowshoeing. After all the snowshoe fun make time to visit the super fun nature play area.

Where: Pierce Ave & Harrison St., Wheaton, IL
Cost: Available weekdays from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.  $7 for a max of 3 hours. Weekend rentals must check out by 4 p.m. on Friday and return by Monday 10 a.m $15
Notes: Advance reservations needed. Email or call 630-871-2810 for availability. Pick up snowshoe rentals at Lincoln Marsh Office (1001 W. Lincoln Ave). Dog-friendly but must be leashed.

Red Oak Nature Center

Enjoy nature’s beauty all around at Red Oak Nature Center especially with the Fox River front and center. Plus, you’ll have a chance to see a cave! Available for rent 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Read all about our visit here.

Where: 2343 S. River Street, Batavia
Cost: $5/pair for one hour of use. Poles are included.
Notes:  Call 630-897-1808 for availability.

Lyman Woods Nature Center

Explore throughout the 150 acres of oak woods or on any of the 4 trails all under a mile.

Where: 901 31st Street, Downers Grove
Cost: $6/pair for up to 3 hours
Notes:  Call ahead to make sure staff member is available (9 a.m. – 4 p.m.) First come, first-served. Check here for snowshoeing status.

Sand Ridge Nature Center

Snowshoes are first come when there is more than 4 inches of snow.  Available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For a shorter trail, try the Pines or Redwing Trail.

Where: 15891 Paxton Ave., South Holland
Cost: Free
Notes: First come, first-served. For more information, please call 708-868-0606.

Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center

Little Red Schoolhouse offers free snowshoe rentals between 8:30 am – 2:30 pm. Snowshoe rentals require registration upon arrival. Snowshoes must remain on the Little Red Schoolhouse grounds. They have a couple trails under a mile which is perfect for beginners.

Where: 9800 Willow Springs Rd, Willow Springs
Cost: Free
Notes: First come, first-served. For more information, please call 708-839-6897.

Lake Katherine Nature Center & Botanic Gardens

Lake Katherine offers snowshoe rentals Monday to Saturday from 10 -3 p.m. Last reservation is at 1:45 p.m. The mile loop around the lake is the perfect way to embrace the winter beauty. Lake Katherine is one of our favorite places around!

Where: 7402 W Lake Katherine Drive, Palos Heights
Cost: $6/hr
Notes: Reservations required. For more information and to make reservations, please call 708-361-1873. Dog-friendly

Trailside Museum of Natural History

Snowshoes are first come. They must be returned by closing time at 4 p.m. and must be used on the forest preserve property. Bring an ID you can hold until you return the gear.

Where: 738 Thatcher Ave., River Forest
Cost: Free
Notes: First come, first-served

Indiana Dunes National Park

Strap on those snowshoes and hike around the Miller Woods Trail where you have short and long trail options. Indiana Dunes is one of our favorite places ever! 

Where: Paul H. Douglas Center, 100 North Lake Street, Gary, Indiana.
Cost: Free
Notes: First come, first-served. Call 219-395-1824 for trail conditions first.

Tips to snowshoe in the Chicago suburbs (and beyond!)

  • Many of the spots require at least 4″ of snow to allow snowshoeing.
  • Make sure to call the places first before trekking out to confirm availability.
  • Some places require reservations. Again, make sure to confirm.
  • If it’s your first time, try a shorter trail to see how you like it.
  • Snowshoeing is a workout! Make sure to bring snacks, stay hydrated, and take breaks if needed.
  • Have fun!

Read all about our first time snowshoe experience at Crabtree Nature Center.

Where is your favorite place to snowshoe near Chicago?

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