This black soil savanna is among the rarest places on Earth. Almost lost to the ages, it was rediscovered and restored to health. Now abounding with life, this preserve proves in one visit the benefits of saving places like this.
- A magical expanse of rich black oak savanna, woodland, and wetland
- Wildlife abounds
- July: Displays of leadplant and rattlesnake master
- August: Sunflowers shine across the woodland
Best Times to Visit:
May through September for wildflowers throughout the preserve
Trails: Soil / Narrow / Not suitable for people with poor balance or eyesight
Access & Parking: The trailhead for Somme Prairie Grove is located on the northwest corner of Waukegan and Dundee Roads. The entrance is slightly obscured. The pin on our map takes you to the “official” parking lot located across the street in the Somme Woods preserve (north side of Dundee Road, just east of Waukegan). Soon after passing the gate and just past the first section of parking spots (only about 150 feet in), look to your left for the information kiosk for Somme Prairie Grove. Facing the kiosk to read it, a mowed path to the Somme Prairie Grove trails is located just yards to your left. Soon after entering the path, the trail splits. Follow the left fork and you’ll emerge from the woods onto the northeast corner of Waukegan and Dundee Roads. Cross Waukegan Road (to the NW corner) where an opening in the trees is the entrance to Somme Prairie Grove. Because some people are having trouble finding their way to Somme Prairie Grove, here’s an alternate approach. From Dundee Road, park on side streets to the west of Waukegan roads, like Laurel and Juniper Lanes. Then walk northeast to the entrance at the corner of Dundee and Waukegan.
Restrooms: Portable. Located in Somme Woods parking area, which is along Dundee Road, just east of Waukegan Road.
Mike’s Thoughts: The edges of Somme Prairie Grove include several stands of oak woodland. But in the center, the preserve opens up into an area dense with prairie plants and a sprinkling of oaks. For a long time, I mistook it for prairie; but it’s actually tallgrass (or black soil) savanna, a habitat where trees are widely dispersed and many plants and animals characteristic of this rare ecosystem are found.
This botanically diverse site attracts all kinds of wildlife. Many distinctive bird species feed and nest here; orchard oriole, indigo bunting, and eastern kingbird let their voices be heard. Even the amphibians have a voice in the matter when, in spring, chorus frogs drown out the din of nearby traffic.
Learn more about Somme Prairie Grove from these websites:
© 2016 – 2018, Mike MacDonald. All rights reserved.