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Don't miss these Chicago spring wildflower hikes

Written by
Geoff Berkheimer

We made it through another Chicago winter. The entire city is coming out of hibernation and we’ll be surrounded by lush greenery and delicate wildflowers before you know it.

In Chicagoland, we have a fleeting category of flowers known as ‘ephemerals’ that only bloom for a tiny window of time in spring—sometimes for just a few hours. Soaking up as much sun as possible before leaves return to the trees, these pioneers illuminate the forest floor with a constellation of color and then retreat underground until the next thaw. Over the next few months, these babies are going to be popping off in a park near you. You seriously don’t want to miss this.

Jackson Park Wooded Island and Bobolink Meadow Calling Chicago a “City in a Garden” seems like a bit of a stretch in most neighborhoods, but you can get lost on Jackson Park’s Wooded Island. Originally built as part of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, you can see remnants of the park’s odd legacy throughout Wooded Island and Bobolink Meadow. Grab a quick bus from downtown to earn some “awesome points” with your next date because you know about history and you also have a sensitive side that appreciates natural beauty.

Somme Prairie Grove For over 40 years, ecological restoration efforts have been transforming Somme’s 400-plus acres of grassland, woodland and savannah back into an oasis of wildlife. Accessible by public transportation (Metra Milwaukee District North Line to Northbrook), Somme’s 3.5 miles of trails wind around ponds and creeks and through three distinct ecosystems. Download a trail guide before you go so that you too can identify plants with awesome names like “bastard toadflax” and “snakeroot”. Extra Credit: Restoration work at Somme is ongoing and awesome. Volunteers like you are needed.

Powderhorn Lake On the South Side and South Suburbs, former industrial sites are being converted into public land at an impressive rate as part of the 15,000-acre Millennium Reserve plan. Powderhorn, just one of many gems in the Calumet region, is arguably the most biodiverse preserve in all of Chicago. A quick ride on the South Shore Line will take you right to Powderhorn’s front door and afford you epic views of post-industrial Chicago before you even step into the majestic Black Oak Savanna.

RECOMMENDED: Things to do in spring in Chicago

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