Chicago Botanic Garden

“The Hundred-Acre Wood”

Mary Mix McDonald Woods Master Plan Realization

Bike and Pedestrian Path, Trail System, and Children’s Nature Play Area



In 1994, thanks to Chicago Botanic Garden board member and Cook County Forest Preserve Commissioner Mary Mix McDonald, the Garden acquired one hundred acres of native Illinois woodland.  Since then, we have imagined a day when we could share this wonderful treasure with Garden visitors, while remaining respectful of the Woods’ fragile ecosystem and scientific importance. 

Comprising one quarter of the Garden’s 385 acres, McDonald Woods is nevertheless one of the areas least visible to visitors.  While the 15-acre Dixon Prairie and the mile-long Skokie River corridor are enjoyed by many and form a high-profile expanse along the Garden’s West Road, McDonald Woods is hardly known as a destination, or even as part of the Garden.  Lack of a trail system through all but 11 acres, limited signage, and the Woods’ location, removed from the Garden’s Main Island, have created the sense that area is inaccessible and un-programmed. 

As part of the Garden’s 10-year strategic plan, “Keep Growing,” we have committed to create new opportunities for visitors to enjoy and appreciate our “Hundred-Acre Wood.”  Just as A. A. Milne and his character Christopher Robin found inspiration in their English forest in 1926, the Chicago Botanic Garden’s “Wood” and its new series of footpaths, nature play area, and access path along Lake Cook Road, will inspire imagination and discovery for adults and children of the Chicago region today.