|Image courtesy of the News Tribune|
The 2.7-mile gravel trail is designed for hiking and bicycling and leads from the levee at the north end of the site through prairies and wetlands to the newly-restored Oak Ridge marsh and savanna at the center of the refuge. Six signs tell travelers about habitats, plants, animals and refuge history.
The trail takes visitors through or close to different types of prairie, meadow and marsh, ending with a short loop around Oak Ridge. Hikers or bicyclists who complete the trip can see the restored marsh from a viewing platform, a good spot to see migrating waterfowl. You also might spot gentian, a wildflower, and river otters along the trail.
The Wetlands Initiative has been restoring the 70-acre Oak Ridge area since 2014 through a 3-to-1 match challenge grant offered by the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation and donations from individual supporters. Final restoration steps this fall will include planting native trees.
A $100,000 grant from Marquis Energy LLC of Hennepin made trail construction possible, with additional funding from Dr. Scholl Foundation, Dynegy Hennepin Power Station, and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Illinois Wildlife Preservation Fund, and donors to The Wetlands Initiative.
From Route 26, visitors can access the trail by turning west onto the levee just south of Coffee Creek bridge and parking at the small lot along the levee and following the signs to the trailhead.
Source: News Tribune