Before Hiking . . .
Leave only your footsteps and take only your photos and memories!
Preserve hours of operation.
The Nachusa Grasslands Preserve is open from dawn to dusk. There are no modern facilities available; however, there is a Port–a–John located at 2075 Lowden Road, Franklin Grove, the main visitor entrance of the preserve. Also at the entrance is a small parking lot and an information kiosk with maps.
What to wear and what to bring.
Bug repellent and sunscreen are recommended in the summer. Also, be sure to bring plenty of water, for the unshaded prairie gets very hot and there are no facilities on the preserve to purchase water. Long pants and sturdy shoes are recommended.
Where to park and enter.
Park in designated lots if present, or pull completely off the roads. Please do not block the gates. Enter the trails through the designated fence openings. No climbing over any fences.
How are Nachusa's "trails" unique?
The trails to walk along will differ from what a visitor may be accustomed to at other preserves and parks. There will be no signage along the trails for interpretation or to point the hiker in a particular direction. Visitors are welcome to walk along the "two–tracks" or to explore off–trail.
These mowed lanes are found extensively throughout the preserve and have been created to allow preserve vehicles (only) to access and manage the property. Feel free to hike along them.
Visitors are encouraged to venture off the two–track lanes to explore and experience the wonder and beauty of the prairie and woodlands up–close. The adventurous hiker may blaze their own path or use deer paths and well-traveled staff and volunteer paths.
What to expect off–trail.
If you venture off–trail, the terrain is uneven and the hiker must be observant of animal holes and rocks. There may be thorny plants and briars amidst the grasses and flowering plants. The habitat can also change quickly from a dry prairie to a wet prairie; from a restored woodland to a savanna; from level topography to magnificent sandstone rock outcrops. So, if you choose to explore off–trail, be sure to dress appropriately for this type of adventure.
CAUTION! Danger of falling. Stay well back from the cliff edges and do not climb on the rock faces, as the sandstone is very soft and can easily crumble under your weight. Feel free to explore the rock faces from the bottom, always being aware of the danger of falling rocks or other objects.
Why are dogs, ATV's, and bicycles prohibited in the prairie?
Nachusa Grasslands is a preserve set aside for native species, rather than for recreation. Rare and even endangered ground–nesting birds both breed and winter here. Pets and recreational vehicles can disturb these species and are therefore not allowed.
When are trails closed?
In late fall and early spring, portions of the preserve will be closed for prescribed burns. Please note that the woodlands are closed during shotgun hunting season for deer. Shotgun hunting season runs the Friday through Sunday before Thanksgiving and the first full Thursday through Sunday in December.