Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie gets the nod for this week’s travel Tuesday photograph of the week. The big thaw is upon us and spring is around the bend. Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow and therefore an early spring is upon us. We will have to take his word for it here in Chicago as the Great Chicago Blizzard kept local groundhogs deep in their hole.
With spring not too far off it means a change in gears for those that adventure. Unless one drives north for more skiing hiking will soon be the activity of choice. Once the water seeps into the ground and the mud hardens, a great place to hike outside of the immediate Chicago area is Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. It is only around 50 miles south of Chicago and along with Indiana Dunes is the closest nationally protected outdoor park.
Spring is a great time to visit as the grass is not high enough making it easy to walk cross-country, no mosquitoes yet, and it is not too hot. Although the summer wildfires are beautiful to witness, it is not a great time to walk a treeless environment. There is some great hiking at Midewin. There are over 25 miles of trails and limitless opportunity to hike overland.
The Illinois prairie at any time of the year is surprisingly beautiful. Illinois is called the “Prairie State.” There are large swaths of the state that are not very scenic. Many make the mistake of an incorrect correlation between the ugliness of some areas of the state and the fact that it is nicknamed the “Prairie State.” The state is not ugly because of the prairie, but from the lack of them.
Illinois used to be two-thirds prairie, but now less than one-percent of our natural grasslands remain. Thankfully, pockets of this pristine world are protected in places like Younghusband Prairie, Nachusa Grasslands, Goose Lake Prairie, and of course Midewin.
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