“A short loop that travels through restored oak savanna to a pond lookout.
— Eric Ashley
The trails at the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie are open year-round from 4:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Although short, this loop is one of the only hikes that provides an up-close look at the area's famed oak savanna. It's a great introduction to the prairie before heading out to longer and more open trails like the Blodgett Marsh Trail
and Henslow Trail
or the bunkers along Group 63 Interim Trail
Birding — Fall Colors — Lake — River/Creek — Views — Wildflowers — Wildlife
This trail is unique in Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie because much of it is in the shade. This is especially welcome on warm, sunny days. Long pants and sturdy shoes are recommended, and be sure to check for ticks at the end of your hike.
Head north out of the River Road Trailhead and look for a pedestrian gate at the fence line. On the other side, head to the left and join the road. Immediately past a small creek is the intersection with the Henslow Trail
on the right. Just past here is the return leg of the Prairie Creek Woods Trail.
Keep following the road through open prairie until a mown trail starts on the left along the tree line (the Blodgett Marsh Trail
begins here). Take this left. It doesn't take long before a dense grove of small trees provides some welcome shade and the tread changes to wood chips. Look for wildlife, wildflowers, and the first glimpse of Buttonbush Pond as the trail begins to wander to the south.
The lookout and benches at the pond make a great spot to take in the sights and sounds of nature as you take a break. When you're ready, continue hiking through an oak-and-hickory forest that will eventually return you to the prairie's edge. Parallel the trees above the creek until reaching the road. Simply turn to the right and retrace your way back through the fence to the parking area.
The prairie is home to a broad range of native plants, wildlife, birds, and interesting spiders. As you hike near the pond, look and listen for frogs and toads.