Eastern Region Viewing Area
LOCATION and PHOTOS
Prairie Creek Woods
Forest: Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie
Description: Prairie Creek Woods is a 180-acre woodland/savanna restoration. Approximately 90 acres are currently undergoing restoration, which includes removal of invasive herbaceous and woody non-native and native plant species, planting of native plant species, and prescribed burning. Prairie Creek has a mix of woodland and savanna wildflowers under large open-grown oak trees. Species found here include: Joe-pye-weed (Eupatorium purpureum), mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum), wild geranium (Geranium maculatum), Jacob’s-ladder (Polemonium reptans), prairie trillium (Trillium recurvatum), and wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis). Removing invasive plant species has allowed the native wildflowers to expand. As restoration continues Prairie Creek Woods will become more colorful with a greater diversity of woodland and savanna wildflowers.
Viewing Information: Woodland wildflowers are best viewed during the end of April and beginning of May. There currently there are no trails through the area and because there is firearm turkey hunting in the area from April 10th to May 11th, the area is only open to the public for wildflower viewing after 1pm each day during turkey hunting season. The savanna wildflowers are best viewed in mid-summer. The nearby River Road seed beds are also an interesting wildflower viewing area where rows of prairie and wetland plants can be viewed and studied. Flower blooming in the seedbeds starts in May and changes continuously through the growing season. A hiking trail through a portion of Prairie Creek Woods is planned for the future.
Safety First: Extensive restoration work is ongoing within the woodland. Some debris from cut invasive woody plant species remains on the ground which can make walking difficult in some locations. Some invasive trees were girdled and falling limbs can be a hazard during windy conditions.
Directions: From the intersection of Interstate 55 and River Road (Exit 241), take River Road east for approximately 1 ½ miles to Boathouse Road. Take Boathouse Road north to the parking area for the River Road prairie seed beds. Prairie Creek Woods is located west of the seed beds. Walk along the old fence line with trees along the northern edge of the seed beds to the west to the walkthrough gate in the deer fence into the woods. The best areas of the woods for wildflower viewing are along the small stream near the gate, north of this stream and along the pipeline right-of-way near River Road.
Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.
Closest Town: Wilmington, Illinois.