Hawthorne Hill Nature Center


28 Brookside Drive, Elgin, IL 60123

Activities will be starting up again in October! See our Fall Program Guide for more details.

Download a Trail Map

About the Nature Center

Hawthorne Hill Nature Center is the perfect place to enjoy and learn about the natural landscapes that surround our region. The nature center provides year round opportunities for experiencing nature. Explore the trails to witness the rich fall colors, snow-frosted trees, spring wildflowers, summer amphibians, and an ever changing host of birds. Hawthorne Hill is an excellent place to relax, recreate and explore the natural world providing two ponds, acres of woodland, a mile of looped trails, and an interactive nature center. The 67 acre natural area that flanks both sides of Brookside Drive has a wheelchair accessible trail that leads to the pond and sedge meadow, as well as wide, wood-chipped trails to access other areas. Please bring your family and friends out to craft your own nature experience or enjoy family-friendly programs offered by Hawthorne Hill Nature Center.

For more information about Hawthorne Hill Nature Center, call 847-531-7012.

To speak with the naturalist or nature center volunteers, call 847-531-7055 during open hours.


The mission of Hawthorne Hill Nature Center is to educate people about nature, themselves, and others through hands-on nature studies, experiential programs and outdoor recreational opportunities, thus cultivating understanding, appreciation and connectedness with the natural world, its inhabitants and humanity as a whole.


The nature center and its property contains exhibits and activities to promote play, encourage discovery, and ultimately lead people to appreciate the diversity in humanity and ecology, therefore protecting the natural world through stewardship and responsible choices.


In 1938, the Cosmopolitan Club of Elgin donated the 22 acres east of Brookside Drive to the Elgin Girl Scout Council. Camp Hawthorne Hills served Girl Scouts for the next 34 years with facilities for weekend overnights and summer day camps. In 1975, on the west side of the road, two ponds were excavated to provide soil for a neighboring housing development. In 1977, The City of Elgin purchased the camp, along with the 45 acres west of Brookside Drive to preserve as a natural area for future generations. In 2005, Hawthorne Hill Nature Center was opened to the public, encompassing a total of 67 acres.

Hawthorne Hill Nature Center Logo.jpg
Hawthorne Hill Nature Center Trail.jpg
Fall Brochure 2020 Cover

Tobacco Ordinance

Tobacco Ordinance The City of Elgin is committed to making our community a healthy place to live, work and recreate. To help us achieve that vision the City Council recently passed an ordinance banning all tobacco substances from most of the city’s parks and recreation facilities. The only exceptions to this tobacco ban are the three city golf courses, Festival Park lawn area during concerts, and the sports complex softball fields during adult programs and events. Banning tobacco substances from our parks should result in several benefits, including elimination of second hand smoke, reduction in the amount of park litter and most importantly positive role models for the young people that use our parks and recreation facilities. We are asking that all residents and users of our parks help us to spread the word of this new ordinance and that compliance comes through peer pressure and social norms. If you wish to read the full ordinance you can find it on the city’s website, by doing a search for Ordinance No. G48-15.

Photos taken by Bill Bailey

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