The 74-acre Somme Prairie Nature Preserve is mainly open grassland. Dedicated as a state nature preserve for its high-quality prairie community, Somme Prairie also has a network of natural-surface footpaths that allow hikers to feel a part of the prairie, observing plants and insects up close. Given Somme Prairie’s nature preserve designation, dogs are not allowed.
Active restoration has taken place in the Somme Preserves since the 1970s. Buckthorn and other invasive species have been removed from large areas, and a diversity of plant and animal life has returned. Birders travel the trails in the Somme Preserves to look for red-tailed hawks, indigo buntings, red-headed woodpeckers, great crested flycatchers, eastern bluebirds and rose-breasted grosbeaks. From east to west, the Somme Preserves in Northbrook progress from shaded woodland to sun-dappled savanna and finally to wide-open prairie. But several decades ago, this natural distribution of ecosystems wasn’t so easy to discern, having become shrouded by dense thickets of invasive buckthorn. Pioneering habitat restoration efforts started here in the 1970s and continue today. The work of countless volunteers has helped tiny remnant pockets of native species spread into an ever-changing display of wildflowers, grasses, birds and other seasonal inhabitants.
A 2.25 mile unpaved trail follows the Middle Branch of the Chicago River connect Somme Woods to Chipilly Woods and Sunset Ridge Woods. Parking for this trail is available at Somme Woods.