The Children's Forest was planted by school children on April 19, 1990. Visitors can enjoy the wooded area along with the vernal pond, the birders' trail, and the Palos School House arch located within the forest.
A vernal pond, also called an ephemeral wetland, is a pond that fills during the spring and dries up over the warmer months. When full, many vernal ponds provide a habitat for amphibians and invertebrates, but not for fish. This is very important to the lives of the amphibians, because fish eat eggs and tadpoles. Because there are no fish, many more amphibians can live and thrive in the wet habitat of a vernal pond. The vernal pond at Lake Katherine is home to a variety of animals, including frogs, during the fall, winter and spring.
The School House Arch was salvaged from the Palos School, which was built in 1941 and demolished in 1989. It is a piece of history from the City of Palos Heights and has been relocated to Lake Katherine to help preserve it for future generations to enjoy.
The forest became overgrown with turf grass and buckthorn over the years following its planting. However, in the summer of 2006, Lake Katherine staff and volunteers undertook a mission to rescue the trees by clearing the buckthorn that had enveloped them, and replacing the turf grass with native grasses. The dry creek bed on the western edge of the prairie was cleared of invasive woody plants by local Eagle Scouts, who also rebuilt the bridge and the stairway in that area.