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Theodore Stone PreserveHodgkins, Illinois

Theodore Stone Preserve

Hodgkins, Illinois

  • Author: admin-OLD
  • Date Posted: Jun 1, 2016
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Get Directions to Theodore Stone Preserve
See important “Notes” below.

Here lies a tale of two prairies: one, a tallgrass prairie, dense and looming, soft in soil; the other, rare and rocky, where stunted plants rooted in dolomite limestone grow few and far between.

Compared to the densely colonized black soil prairie along its western border, this rocky dolomite prairie can sometimes appear a bit sparse. But near summer’s end, the eastern prairie easily outshines its western neighbor when the vibrant pinks of rough blazing star fill all feelings of emptiness.

Compared to the densely colonized black soil prairie along its western border, this rocky dolomite prairie can sometimes appear a bit sparse. But near summer’s end, the eastern prairie easily outshines its western neighbor when the vibrant pinks of rough blazing star fill all feelings of emptiness.

Features:

  • Rare dolomite prairie on the east side
  • Tallgrass prairie on the west side
  • Wetland by the entrance
  • Woodland around the edges that are in the early stages of restoration
  • Frequent morning fog

Highlights:

  • September: Rough Blazing Star

Best Times to Visit:

  • Summer: Wildflowers in the prairies

Mike’s Thoughts: Theodore Stone Preserve effectively features two restored prairies. Beginning at the trailhead at the western edge of the preserve, the path crosses a wetland and leads you into a traditional tallgrass prairie. Along this narrow grassland trail, you’re engulfed within a throng of towering grasses and forbs that shoot up from the soft black soil.

When the path reaches the slight ridge that divides the preserve, even a nature newbie as green as the prairie can tell that something has changed. Suddenly, the same plants that would normally touch your chest barely reach your knees. Visually impenetrable space opens up to reveal the ground—a ground made of rock, dolomite limestone to be precise. Under these hard conditions, growth and propagation are stunted—common for this globally uncommon habitat known as a dolomite prairie. And though the plants may be smaller, they are no less beautiful.

Notes: The preserve trailhead is located at the very end of the parking lot. Unfortunately, the entrance boardwalk over the wetland is made up of a precariously pieced-together of picnic table tops, scrap wood, and logs. Be very careful. As an alternative, I almost always park at the other end of the preserve at the southwest corner of East Avenue and Mance Drive. Park along Mance Drive. The downside is that the grassy area leading to the trail is used by local residents to air their dogs, and they sometimes don’t clean up. Until they do something about the main entrance, I choose the minefield of dog poop.

Learn more about Theodore Stone Preserve from these websites:

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