The Dan Ryan Woods continues to become a more attractive place for Chicagoans to enjoy the great outdoors.

A set of fitness stairs opened at the north side of the woods, at 8700 S. Western Ave., in January, offering a fun amenity for walking and hiking—or anyone heading back up the popular sledding hill.

Cook County Commissioner Stanley Moore said the staircase, which contains about 60 steps, was inspired by stairs at Swallow Cliff in Palos Heights.

The stairs at the Dan Ryan Woods are located next to the visitor center, which opened in 2017, and a pavilion that was renovated in 2013 and is available for private parties.

A nature-play tree house for children is also under construction next to the visitor center, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the tree house and stairs is scheduled for this summer.

Last November, a Chicago Council of Gold Star Mothers memorial was moved from the southeast corner of 87th Street and Western Avenue to a site next to the visitor center. Renovated thanks to the efforts of local residents, the memorial adds to the aesthetics of the corner and provides a solemn reminder of the cost of freedom.

Officials boasted that the corner provides the highest natural point in the city, and the clear view of the downtown skyline enhances the natural beauty of the woods.

There is plenty of parking, which is a vital amenity. The staircase at Swallow Cliff is wildly popular, and the Dan Ryan Woods’ stairs could generate similar crowds now that warmer weather has arrived.

The view from the top of the staircase showcases the many acres of beautiful greenspace in the woods, and it is hoped that visitors will keep the area clean.

Wild Blossom Meadery and Winery, located adjacent to the woods at 9030 S. Hermitage Ave., hosted a Fun Honey Bee Run on March 31 that went through the woods, and organizers hope to host another event this year that will benefit the woods—perhaps a “Taste of Honey,” in which local businesses could show off food items made with honey.

Such events show that the revamping of the northeast corner of 87th and Western can also boost the local economy.

New signage posted around the Dan Ryan Woods direct visitors to various amenities, and with spring here, local residents should take advantage of this amazing forest preserve located right in our neighborhood.