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Backpacker Magazine – January/February 2010

Readers' Choice Midwest Hikes: Nachusa Grasslands, IL

Explore a vast, trail-free prairie.

by: Midwest Reader Map Team


READERS' CHOICE 2010
See which other trips made it into our annual awards.

Nachusa Grasslands, IL | Aurora Borealis - Isle Royale NP, MI |Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, OK | Effigy Mounds National Monument, IA | Ice Age Trail, WI | Garden of the Gods to Lusk Creek  Canyon, - Shawnee NF, IL


“Nachusa Grasslands is one of the finest examples of a prairie restoration project nationwide,” Heneghan reports. The sea of big and little bluestem grass sprawls over nearly 3,000 acres and features more than 600 species of flowers, grasses, and sedges, plus provides habitat for 180 species of birds. Hike the grasslands from June to September to see a full explosion of color. In mid-June, songbirds chirp as pale purple coneflower blooms. “By September, the grasses take on a spectacular reddish hue,” Heneghan says. 


PLAN IT
Driving From Rockford, take IL 2 33.8 miles south to Lost Nation Rd. Turn left and go one mile to a right on Maples Rd. Turn left on Naylor Rd. and left again on Loaden Rd. 3.5 miles later. Then drive 1.4 miles to the park.

Map and Guide Available at kiosk Contact (815) 456-2340, nature.org




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READERS COMMENTS

Steve C
Sep 05, 2011

What's different about this place than many others, is you're encouraged to hike off-trail. In fact, the only trail is no more than 300 feet - then you're on your own. Quite an experience to get "lost" in the turkey feet & big blue stem towering over your head.

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