West Ridge Nature Preserve, Park Advisory Council (PAC)

Chicago Park District

All Kinds of Natural Materials
and Structures Lead to Creative Play

The Intent is to Invite Free Play in an Open Space with a Woodsy Feel

Our plans to newly build the Nature Play Area are underway. Examples of what we are adding include a digging pit, large hill, small stage, music station, tall grass maze, embedded climbing tree and mud kitchen.


The grand opening of the newly built play area will take place on June 20 (June 21 rain date), at Our Hello Summer Festival, 3 -8 p.m. School is over and summer starts. Please join us. 


To reach the Nature Play area, follow the StoryBook path or walk around either end of the pond. Whichever route you choose, you will find our Nature Play Area tucked into a nook at east end of the preserve. The area is both woodsy and open with a happy grouping of natural objects. 

This natural space and materials invite free play. The guiding principle is for children to engage with and manipulate these natural objects. It is the children, not the adults, who are the leaders and creators.


The large and small branches, tree cookies, stumps, stones, and a large mulch pile provide endless opportunities for different kinds of play. Children can test their balance walking from one stump to another, exercise their minds and bodies building teepees, use their imaginations turning tree cookies into dinner plates and so much more.