Located in the south suburbs and managed by the Forest Preserves of Cook County, Orland Grassland is an exceptional display of the expansive prairies that used to stretch across the region.
Starting in 2002, this 960-acre preserve has been transformed from farmland back into a grassland complex with prairies, wetlands, open ponds, oak savannas, and woodlands. Openlands helped restore the landscape at Orland Grassland and today, much of the preserve is enrolled in the Illinois Nature Preserve system and it is a designated important bird area by Audubon Society.
The restoration has also made Orland Grassland one of the best spots in southern Cook County to see grassland birds. Henslow sparrows, meadowlarks, clay-colored sparrows, and bobolinks all make their homes here. Orland Grassland sits close to Bartel Grassland and Bobolink Meadow, both of which are phenomenal grassland bird habitats that Openlands has helped restore. By identifying and restoring conservation areas in proximity to one another, we create the habitat on the scale needed for wildlife to thrive.
A five-mile paved trail rings Orland Grassland with several unpaved trails winding through the restoration areas. The south unit of Orland Grassland also featured a 1.6-mile paved trail if you’re looking for a shorter trail (or a longer extension of the main trail). The unpaved trails are marked with handmade signs created by Cub Scout Troop #372 of Orland Park.