The Forest Preserve District created the Midewin-Wauponsee Trailhead in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, which owns and operates Midewin. The trailhead features vehicle and equestrian parking, a latrine and a picnic table.
“By working together, the two agencies have been able to merge resources to make traveling between the Wauponsee Glacial Trail and Midewin’s trails more convenient and to provide easy access to view the bison herd,” said Ralph Schultz, the Forest Preserve District’s Chief Operating Officer.
The Forest Preserve District’s WGT stretches 22.29 miles from Joliet to the Kankakee River in Custer Park. The new trailhead is located south of Manhattan on Hoff Road. Just south of the trailhead, WGT intersects with a path that leads into the 19,000-acre Midewin site.
To get to the bison herd from the Midewin-Wauponsee Trailhead, head south on WGT 0.83 mile until the path intersects with Bailey Bridge Trail. Go west into Midewin on Bailey Bridge Trail until the trail turns into Twin Oaks Trail and intersects with Old Chicago Road. Travel north on Old Chicago Road to the northern branch of Twin Oaks Trail. (The southern branch of Twin Oaks Trail is closed due to a culvert washout.) Continue west on the northern section of Twin Oaks Trail until it turns south and west again to become Group 63 Trail Loop and Henslow Trail.
Group 63 Trail Loop and Henslow Trail form the northern border of the bison herd’s 1,200-acre fenced grazing area. The journey from Midewin-Wauponsee Trailhead to the bison area is roughly 8 miles. The bison range also can be accessed via the U.S. Forest Service’s Iron Bridge Trailhead on Route 53 and the Hoff Road Trailhead, located at the intersection of Hoff Road and South Chicago Road.
WGT and the internal Midewin trail route that leads to the bison are multiuse and open to hikers, runners, bicyclists and equestrians.
The U.S. Forest Service encourages Midewin/bison visitors to:
• Stop by the Midewin Welcome Center at 30239 S. Route 53, Wilmington, to find maps and other information on the bison herd and the site in general. • Bring binoculars or a spotting scope. Midewin’s 27 bison are often grazing a long distance from the trail. • Be persistent. If you can’t see bison on your first trip, come back again. Bison grazing patterns are unpredictable. • Stay on multiuse trails if you are on a bike or horse. If the trail is mowed grass, then it is designated for foot traffic only. All other trails/roads are multiuse routes. Midewin’s trails are open year-round from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m.
For information on the Forest Preserve District’s Wauponsee Glacial Trail, visit ReconnectWithNature.org. For information on the U.S. Forest Service’s Midewin Tallgrass Prairie and its bison project, visit fs.usda.gov/midewin.