West Ridge Nature Preserve, Park Advisory Council (PAC)

Chicago Park District

Children Create Their Own Activities
In the Nature Play Area

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

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 clutter of natural objects.


The 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, nor 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.

And plans to enhance our Nature Play Area are in the works. Examples of what we plan to add include a digging pit, large hill, small stage, music station, tall grass maze, embedded climbing tree and mud kitchen. These enhancements will occur bit by bit over time.