Editors Note: Lake County Dog Parks are reopening! This story was originally published in 2016 and has been updated to current information.
Running free through the forest, swimming through lakes, and chasing friends is something every dog dreams of. Lake County dogs are very lucky, indeed. The Lake County Forest Preserve maintains four amazing dog parks perfect for your furry family members. Open daily from 6:30 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. (or sunset), dog parks provide hours of excitement while also running your dog to exhaustion. And dog exercise areas encourage families to stay active together. Each park on our list offers 30-acres (or more) of pure, outdoor family fun
Lake County Dog Parks
Lake County Forest Preserve Dog parks require an annual permit per dog or a daily fee (as of June 2020, daily passes are not being sold). Our 11-month-old dog is full of energy, so our family opts for an annual permit since we often visit multiple times in a week. Check the Lake County Dog Parks Page for details about requirements and how to purchase a permit. You can even buy a gift certificate for a dog park visit for the special dog in your life.
Dog Parks at Lake County Forest Preserves
Independence Grove Dog Park
31531-, 32499 N. Milwaukee Ave.* | Libertyville
* The dog park has a separate entrance from Independence Grove Forest Preserve. Enter on Milwaukee Avenue (Route 21), north of Buckley Road (Route 137).
Tabbed as the “Best Dog Park” by Northshore Magazine, Independence Grove Dog Park is our family’s favorite. With a lake and shaded trails for dogs to explore, this park does not disappoint. Also, you’ll find three beaches where dogs can jump in to retrieve tennis balls and Frisbees. Plenty of open space allows dogs to romp and roll. Enjoy the opportunity to make new friends, too–you may find that many visitors here are “regulars” at this park.
Lakewood Forest Preserve Dog Park
27473, 27511 N. Fairfield Rd.* | Wauconda
* Enter the dog park off of Fairfield Road, north of Route 176
The biggest of the four parks, Lakewood Forest Preserve Dog Park, has a whopping 66-acres for your four-legged friend to explore and is our family’s “home” dog park. We hike the wooded trails here, but this park is known best for its open prairie-style trails. However, there is no water feature here to cool off dogs on hot days. With a recent addition of open space, this is the park where I log the most FitBit steps. A trip around the outer trails of this park usually nets me 5,000 or more steps. Rumor has it you can find quite a few Pokémon here, too!
Duck Farm Dog Park
Hwy 132 and Douglas Ln.* | Lake Villa
* Entrance is on Grand Avenue, east of Deep Lake Road
Whether you love the wide-open, grassy area at the park’s entrance, or if you prefer to hike the long loop around the park, you and your dog will fall in love with this park. Here, 48-acres of land is lined with grass trails and small creeks for dogs to take a swim. Another great feature here is hills for dogs to run up and down and plenty of wetlands and open trails that will wear your dog out. The doggie drinking fountain also comes in handy on warm days (note that as of June 2020, fountains are not currently on).
Prairie Wolf Dog Park
1917-2075 S. Waukegan Rd.* | Lake Forest
* Entrance is on Waukegan Road (Route 43), north of Half Day Road (Route 22)
Last but not least, this park is simply a dog paradise. From a huge pond, tons of trails through forest and prairie grass to a drinking fountain (June 2020 not available), and plenty of open space to run free, this park has it all. Offering 44-acres of space, one of this park’s unique features is the fenced-in training area, which can also be used for smaller dogs to roam. While there is a lake, it is fenced-in, allowing owners to decide if they would like to take their dog for a swim. Not only does this park have a great location, but it is also absolutely beautiful to visit.
Waukegan Savanna Dog Park
3800 York House Rd* | Waukegan
*Entrance is on York House Road just east of Delany
This is a new off-leash park operated by the Lake County Forest Preserves. The 11-acre area is entirely fenced and features a large open area, a separate enclosed area for small dogs weighing less than 25 pounds, shade shelters with seating, drinking water for dogs and people (June 2020, not currently open).
City Dog Parks in Lake County
Several municipalities and park districts also offer dog exercise areas. Again, be sure to check with restrictions and permits needed for each park you intend to visit:
- Callahan-Franklin Dog Exercise Area
Larsen Nature Preserve, 1720 Western Avenue, Waukegan
Amenities: separate play areas for small and large dogs, parking, benches, picnic table, shade, fencing, waste containers, and bags and a dog drinking fountain.
- Debbie Gottlieb Beitler Dog Park
701 Deer Creek Parkway, Highland Park.
Amenities: two off-leash exercise areas based on the size of the dog
- Happy Tails Dog Park
835 Commerce Dt, Buffalo Grove – Located at the south end of the parking lot at the Sidney Mathias Metra Train Station
A permit is required and is available to both Buffalo Grove residents and non-residents.
- Jaycee Park
1026 Wilmot Rd., Deerfield
Newly renovated dog exercise area.
- Northbrook Dog Park at Coast Guard Park
2490 Dundee Rd., Northbrook
Amenities: Benches, Dog Park, Dog Wash, Drinking Fountain, Fenced-in Grounds, Gated Key Access
Only open to Northbrook residents with a permit.
With so many great dog parks to choose from, what are you waiting for? Pack up your dog for a car ride and explore a dog park with your family; they are open year-round, too. I’ll see you there.
Which dog park is your favorite in Lake County? Tell us in the comments section below.
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