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Theodore Stone PreserveHodgkins, Illinois

Theodore Stone Preserve

Hodgkins, Illinois

  • Author: Mike MacDonald
  • Date Posted: Jun 1, 2016
  • Category:

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: My directions take you to the northeast corner of the preserve on Mance Drive just off of East Avenue. DO NOT PARK IN THE SUBDIVISION. PARK BETWEEN STOP SIGN AND EAST AVENUE. There’s a trail by the open grassy spot. The official trailhead for the preserve is located at the very end of the Theodore Stone Preserve parking lot. However, the entrance to the prairie is difficult to find.

Learn more about Theodore Stone Preserve from these websites:

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