Oh Give Me a Home, Where the Bison Roam:
Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie
The weather continued to be amazing (52 degrees!) at the beginning of December and I had another Friday off. What better chance for another Trail Tracing adventure!
After a little bit of cajoling and the promise of bison (more below), my Trail Tracing partner and I headed to Wilmington, Illinois – home to the Midewin (pronounced mih-DAY-win) National Tallgrass Prairie which was the first national tallgrass prairie in the U.S.
Ready for a little history? Please see the following link: Midewin History & Culture.
I hope you’ll agree that the history of Midewin is pretty interesting. Plus, the fact that we’re now able to explore and enjoy approximately 13,000 acres (of its 20,000+ acres) of such a beautiful place is, well, incredible!
As I noted above, I made a promise that we would see bison during our visit to Midewin. You see, in 2015 a herd of bison was introduced to Midewin and I used them as part of my plot to visit Midewin. Here’s some information about the Midewin Bison Project.
And, maybe today’s your lucky bison-sighting day? Please visit the following link to the Midewin website home page and, who knows, the bison may be in the area where the “bison-cam” is located.
After arriving at Midewin and checking out the Welcome Center, we drove to the Iron Bridge Trailhead parking lot. Because we wanted to have as good of a chance as possible to see the bison, we decided on the Group 63 Trail since a long stretch of this trail runs along the edge of the area where the bison live.
If you’re a fan of long stretches of contemplative-worthy trails (and wide open spaces – and, be honest, you just started to sing the song!), the Group 63 Trail is the place for you (honestly, the whole of Midewin is probably the place for you!). See for yourself.
And, for any inquiring minds who were wondering how and where we came up with the thumbnail picture/painting that we used for this blog post and in other places on social media, today’s your lucky day.
As you can see, the old ammunition storage bunkers have been allowed to become part of nature, so to speak. Thus, since climbing is allowed on some of the bunkers, it seemed like a perfect photo opportunity.
And the outcome was the picture used on our website and other social media.
What’s in store for the continuing restoration of Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie? Well, I’m glad you asked because the Forest Service has provided just such a vision statement – Vision for Restoration
Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is an amazing place, and we’re fortunate that it’s so close to Chicago. We’ll definitely be returning again once the weather is consistently warmer and the growing season is in full swing (it was April when this was written and the weather can’t seem to make up it’s mind!).
However, our visit in December 2017 was a lovely day. Check out the video proof.
Oh – I almost forgot. Did we see the bison? Well…no and yes. After hiking the Group 63 Trail, and not seeing any bison, we decided to continue on to the Southwest Bison Overlook (see the map again for the location). No luck! However, on our way back to the Iron Bridge parking lot, way (way!) in the distance we could see the herd! Whew! Promise not broken!
find a trail ~ find your path