Veteran Acres - Sterne's Woods Hike
Passive recreation lovers enjoy groomed cross country ski trails in the winter and hiking trails through natural areas including Sterne's Woods and Wingate Prairie, an Illinois Nature Preserve. Wingate Prairie is 39 acres of precious gravel hill prairie. Precious, because a scarce 59 acres are known to exist within Illinois. In 1994, the Illinois Nature Preserve Commission designated 33.5 acres as Illinois Nature Preserve. Only sites with statewide ecological value are considered for this highest level of protection under Illinois law. An additional 38.8 acres of land was designated around the prairie as Nature Preserve buffer. This unique prairie land, with its rolling terrain, oak savanna and conifer groupings, is home to several rare and endangered plant and animal species including the Prairie Buttercup, Pinweed, Queen of the Prairie, Pale Vetchling, Purple Flowering Raspberry, Silvery Blue Butterfly, and the Franklin Ground Squirrel. During its active months from spring to fall, the prairie is in constant bloom. Nature lovers are welcomed by different blooms weekly making the prairie an ever-changing kaleidoscope of wildflowers. From hill to hollow, the type of flowers waiting to be discovered varies. A flat moraine at the northern end of the site is home to yet another variety of plants not requiring the well-drained soil of the hills or the damp hollow areas.