Whispering Willows Park- Name is changing to Willowhaven Park in 2017
- Address: 1451 N 4000 E Rd, Kankakee, IL 60901
- Hours: Dawn till dusk year round
- Acreage: 120 acres
- Amenities: 1.1 miles of Limestone trails, fishing ponds, wildflower gardens and Willowhaven Nature Center.
- Activities: Biking, hiking and fishing. Ponds are catch and relase fishing only. Bank and pier fishing permitted.
To preserve its natural setting, no motorized vehicles are allowed on the trails. Also there is no swimming, horseback riding, boating or camping in the park.
The wetlands and ponds of the Whispering Willows Parks are a natural invitation to wildlife. Spring is the best time of the year to catch glimpses of migrating waterfowl like Northern Shovelers, Blue-wing teals and Hooded Mergansers. You can also catch Snapping and Painted turtles along the trails as they dig nests.
Summer brings out the pond life like Bull Frogs, Crayfish, Common White Dragonflies, Great Blue Herons and Green Herons. A wide variety of wildlife can be found in the park including white tail deer, ring-necked pheasant, coyote and raccoons are abundant. Many bird species nest in the park including waterfowl, songbirds and red tail hawks. The ponds are home to many fish species including bass, crappie and bluegill; as well as, frogs, toads, turtles and many types of waterfowl are found in and around the ponds.
2 miles of paved trails within Whispering Willows Park guide you through natural prairies. Trails are open from sunrise to sunset 365 days of the year. Pets are welcome but please remember to be courteous to others enjoying the trails by keeping them leashed and disposing of waste properly.
In 1999, the Bourbonnais Township Park District accepted a donation of seventy acres from the family of Roman "Smitty" Smietanski. The donated land was at one time use for agricultural purposes before it was converted to a more natural setting to attract wildlife. It was the wish of the Smietanski Family that the donated property, formerly known as Roman's Willowhaven, be kept as natural as possible.
Shortly after the acquisition of the Smietanski property, sixty-one acres of land was purchased adjacent the the Smietanski land. Whispering Willows Park was created on these two properties.
Development of the park was done through 3-D Design, Inc.who created the trails and interpretive gardens featured in the park. Preservation Trades, Inc. took over the project of creating a nature center on the site by restoring a 1900s antique barn that was donated from the Folker family in Iowa to create the Willowhaven Nature Center. The doors of the Nature Center opened in July 2006.