Benefit: Field Trips
Gensburg Markham Prairie
Spring Creek Valley
Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education
The Paul H. Douglas Center has restrooms, picnic tables, and wetland boardwalk that are all wheelchair accessible. There are displays showing information about Indiana Dunes National Park. Hike the incredible Paul H. Douglas (Miller Woods) trail system. Families can enjoy the Nature Play Zone. Use the picnic table area to have a bite. There is an indoor Activities Room with games, crafts, books, and art supplies!
The center and trail are named after U.S. Senator Paul H. Douglas from Illinois, who was instrumental in the creation of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in 1966 (renamed Indiana Dunes National Park in 2019).
Bailly Homestead / Chellberg Farm
The Little Calumet River, Mnoké Prairie, Bailly Homestead, Chellberg Farm and Bailly Cemetery trail system reveals the rich natural diversity that has drawn people to this area for over 10,000 years. Hike through a forest dominated by maple, beech, basswood and oak trees.
Follow a stretch of the Little Calumet River, once a critical transportation route for early regional travelers and explore the recently restored Mnoké Prairie for a glimmer of the vast stretches of pre-settlement grasslands. Explore the historic Bailly Homestead and Chellberg Farm. There are picnic shelters reservable on www.recreation.gov.
Indian Ridge Marsh
Once used for the disposal of slag, a waste product of the steel making process, Indian Ridge Marsh is taking on a new life. This natural area – located in the Southeast Side’s South Deering neighborhood – covers 154 acres between Lake Calumet to the west and the Calumet River to the south. Large portions of the marsh were once filled with dredge material from disposal activities of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2015. Since then, the site is being restored to its historic wetland habitat thanks to the Chicago Park District and its partners. On the north end of the marsh, mulched trails cut through wet prairie, an important habitat once common throughout the Calumet region. Native flowers and grasses offer food and habitat to a myriad of birds and insects. Visitors can walk the trails and connect with nature or relax and take in picturesque marsh and wildlife views. In the center of IRM is a nature play space and picnic tables – it’s a great place to relax, play and enjoy the sights and sounds of the marsh and savanna.
Marian R. Byrnes Park
Named for environmental activist Marian R. Byrnes, this 135-acre park is one of Chicago’s largest natural areas. Located in the Southeast Side’s Jeffery Manor neighborhood (where it’s known as “the prairie”), the site encompasses a variety of ecosystems, making it a great place to observe species like frogs, snakes, birds, and deer. After undergoing immense ecological restoration, the park now provides community members with a safe space to relax and connect with nature. Its new asphalt multipurpose trail runs the length of the park, giving visitors access to multiple habitats and unique views.
Steelworkers Park -Chicago Park District
Located in the South Chicago neighborhood, Steelworkers Park weaves its rich industrial history into present day recreation. Once the site of a thriving steel mill along Lake Michigan’s shoreline, the park is now one of the city’s unique natural areas, perfect for birding, stargazing, and other outdoor fun.
Feeling adventurous? Try your hand at rock climbing up a portion of the repurposed historic ore wall left behind by the steel industry. Or keep your feet on the ground with a relaxing walk or bike ride along meandering nature paths lined with native grasses and plants.