Chicago, IL: Volo Bog Loop

Join two easy loops through this peat-covered bog for a 3.3-mile hike that would make a botanist quake with envy.
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Join two easy loops through this peat-covered bog for a 3.3-mile hike that would make a botanist quake with envy.

The moving carpet of living vegetation floating atop Volo Bog’s 50-foot depths--Illinois' only quaking bog--make it the most unique wetland in the area. This hike combines two loops for a 3.3-mile hike through an array of plant species from distinct communities along the bog's five stages. Begin by following the 0.5-mile Interpretative Trail boardwalk in a counterclockwise loop. The trail skirts winterberry holly, European buckthorn, ferns, poison sumac, and even carnivorous pitcher plants before reaching the bog’s open-water center and turning back toward the visitor’s center. The second loop follows the Tamarack View Trail for 2.8 miles around the edge of the bog. From the visitor’s center, it cruises through a white oak and box elder forest: Watch for songbirds flitting through the trees. A boardwalk section leads to an overlook (with a bench) that is a great place to stop before rolling over several small hills and rounding the north end of the bog. The trail passes a bird blind and beaver lodges before reentering the woods. A cluster of inviting benches sit under the shady stand of pine just a few hundred yards north of the visitor’s center. The second loop follows the Tamarak View Trail for 2.8 miles around the edge of the bog. From the visitor’s center, it cruises through a white oak and box elder forest: Watch for songbirds flitting through the trees. A boardwalk section leads to a bench-furnished overlook that is a great place to stop before rolling over several small hills and rounding the north end of the bog. The trail passes a bird blind and beaver lodges before reentering the woods. A cluster of inviting benches sit under the shady stand of pine just a few hundred yards north of the visitor’s center. -Mapped by Ted Villaire

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 5.3

Waypoints

VOL001

Location: 42.3513451, -88.1882019

Start below the the visitor's center and follow the Interpretive Trail to the right.

VOL002

Location: 42.3505745, -88.1863327

Pass a muskrat lodge on the left and a wide variety of plants along the trail. Be sure to heed warnings about the poison sumac: it can cause a nasty rash.

VOL003

Location: 42.3514061, -88.1845551

Moving farther into the shrubby bog, are a series of moss-covered, hummocks-floating mounds of decomposing plant material. The bog's open water is surrounded by attractive tamarack trees.

VOL004

Location: 42.3514938, -88.1879654

At the end of the Interpretive Trail, pick up the Tamarack View Trail to the left.

VOL005

Location: 42.3491247, -88.1906033

Watch for downy woodpeckers, sparrows, warblers, and other songbirds in the forest. In the spring, summer, and fall, kingfishers, mute swans, great egrets, great blue herons, and various geese inhabit these wetlands.

VOL006

Location: 42.3469997, -88.1762266

The trail follows a boardwalk through a wet area.

VOL007

Location: 42.351107, -88.1800246

Enjoy a view of the marsh from a nicely situated bench. Keep watch in this section of the marsh for sandhill cranes. This is one of the few nesting sites in northern Illinois for these large gray birds with red foreheads.

VOL008

Location: 42.3571663, -88.1823883

As the woodland resumes, descend a gentle ravine squeezed between a small pond and the bog. From the observation blind, watch for beaver and muskrat peeking out of the water--both have lodges nearby.

VOL009

Location: 42.3555336, -88.1860046

Turn left @ T-junction atop a small hill.

VOL010

Location: 42.3534813, -88.1869888

Several wood benches in this grove of Scotch pine make a good place to stop before arriving back at the visitor's center.

Forest

Location: 42.3490601, -88.1905212

The Tamarack View Trail begins with a forested section that is habitat for many bird species. ©Ted Villaire

Boardwalk

Location: 42.3468895, -88.1759109

The Tamarak View Trail Boardwalk ©Ted Villaire

Bur Oaks

Location: 42.351078, -88.1800079

The savanna is sprinkled with a few enormous bur oaks. ©Ted Villaire