No matter how you enjoy the outdoors, Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is a haven for outdoor recreation. It is the largest outdoor area in the Chicago region, Midewin boasts an expansive 22-mile trail system — 12 of which are for hiking only — and it is open to the public free of charge.
Before becoming a National Tallgrass Prairie, Midewin was the Joliet Army Ammunition Plant. Following several years of advocacy by Openlands and a coalition of 23 partners, President Clinton established Midewin in 1996 as the nation’s first national tallgrass prairie. Now stretching across more than 19,000 acres, Midewin is managed by the U.S. Forest Service, and with the support of a broad coalition, we are together working to expand public programming, restore globally-rare landscapes and habitat, and ensure that this spectacular natural treasure is permanently protected for future generations.
Midewin is today considered one of the most important conservation initiatives in Illinois of the 20th century and a model process for conversion of surplus federal property to public open space. It is home to a herd of American bison and countless species of wildlife, and it is part of the national mosaic of your public lands.
Trails at Midewin are open daily from 4am-10pm. You can download the complete trail map online or visit the Forest Service Headquarters to learn about the additional recreation opportunities offered, such as horseback riding, hunting, and cross-country skiing.