Recreation

There are nearly 9,000 acres open to the public with 33 miles of trail for hiking, biking and horseback riding. Click on a button below to find out more about our trails and how to find the trailheads. Midewin trails are open from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. Trail maps in English and Spanish are available online. Self-guided tours are also available through an app.

Midewin is a wonder of wildflowers and birds for nature lovers. Visit the Outdoor Learning section for information on all the ways you can experience Midewin on the ground and from home.

While here you can see the on-going prairie restoration projects, including the native plant seedbeds. You can also look for the bison that roam a large expanse of the prairie.

 

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Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information

Recreation Conditions Report

 Area Name Status Area Conditions
Welcome Center Closed to Visitor The vestibule of the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie Welcome Center is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. When inside, please wear a mask and maintain six feet physical distance. In the vestibule, you can pick up Trail Maps, Conservation Education Program Guides, pocket guides with information about native Illinois prairie species and more. A Visitor Information Specialist can also answer questions through an intercom to help you make the most of your prairie experience by providing directions to your destination and special instructions.

Spotlights

Welcome Center

Midewin Welcome Center offers a tranquil space with pleasant nature sounds on a recording with colorful interpretive signs that highlight the cultural and natural history of the land. Visitors to the Welcome Center will find out more about Midewin's history and mission and how restoration is occurring.

Those coming to learn about or view the Bison will want to start here to find out more about the Bison Project and explore the bison boxes. There are several displays at the Welcome Center, including Glaciers, Wetland Habitats, Prairie Habitats, Wildlife that Inhabit Wetlands and Prairies, Ghosts of the Prairie and the Timeline of the Midewin Area. The Welcome Center has a variety of programs and tours from April to October. During the winter months we host a "Winter Lecture Series" on nature and conservation related topics, held in the conference room.

Scroll down to "Visitor Programs" for event schedules, program and volunteer day information and, during winter months, the winter lecture series information.

South Patrol Road Prairie Restoration

In the 500-acre South Patrol Road prairie restoration nearly 200 different plant species have been planted and visitors will see sections of 8-foot-tall prairie grasses. The area is a mix of prairie and wetlands. Grassland bird species to see/hear include meadowlarks, bobolinks, dickcissels. Frogs to see and hear include leopard frog, chorus frogs, American Toad.

Plant species to see include prairie dock, big bluestem, foxglove beardtongue, golden alexander. Blooming times will vary so don't forget to check the “Whats in Bloom” board at the Welcome Center for up-to-date in-bloom info! Take the Henslow Trail to walk in and see this incredible restoration.

Bailey Bridge Trail

The Bailey Bridge Trail is a 2.5-mile trail that begins near the Twin Oaks Trail and ends at the junction that connects the Wauponsee Glacial Trail with Twin Oaks Trail. Unlike other hikes at Midewin, the Bailey Bridge Trail is not a loop trail, but it intersects with numerous other trails, which provides visitors opportunities to extend their hikes and create their own path back to the trailhead.

Immediately upon starting your walk you will go past a small pioneer cemetery, most likely established in 1877 by a local homesteader from Pennsylvania. After passing the cemetery you will be brought to the bunkers, or “igloos” as they are fondly referred to.

There are several bridge crossings along the trail. Interpretive signs provide visitors with the history of the 140-foot long Bailey Bridge, a portable, pre-fabricated truss bridge developed by the British during WWII for military use. The bridges saw extensive use by the British, Canadian and United States military engineering units during WWII. Originally there were two Bailey Bridges at Joliet, but they fell into disrepair and could not be salvaged. The existing bridge is a surplus bridge that was purchased and assembled in place of one of the unsalvageable original bridges. The existing bridge was built by Thirty-nine volunteers over the course of five days, taking 928 man-hours to finish.



https://www.fs.usda.gov/recmain/midewin/recreation