West Chicago Prairie
The 358-acre West Chicago Prairie is a one of the region’s premier natural areas.. It contains over 600 species of native plants and animals. Many volunteers invest their time and energy to help protect the ecological health of this rare Illinois ecosystem, offering the Forest Preserve District assistance in caring for the natural area.
West Chicago Prairie is different from other DuPage County forest preserves in that it contains no large picnic areas or fishing lakes. Instead, it offers visitors the unique opportunity to enjoy a tranquil walk through one of the state’s rarest — and richest — prairie ecosystems.
In addition to wetlands and upland oak savannas, the preserve is home to one of the most biologically diverse sites in northeastern Illinois, the 126-acre Truitt-Hoff Nature Preserve. It is one of eight state-designated nature preserves in DuPage County owned and operated by the Forest Preserve District.
The Truitt-Hoff Nature Preserve has historically contained native vegetation from the Northeastern Morainal Division, a section of moraines and related features from the Wisconsin Glacier. In fact, this remnant ecosystem has provided rare and specialized habitats to some 622 plant and animal species, several rare or endangered.
The area is named for Richard Truitt, the former mayor of West Chicago who discovered the site, and Melvern “Mel” Hoff, who donated over 20,000 hours as volunteer site steward to help manage it.
Because state law prescribes that progressive efforts continue to protect and manage the Truitt-Hoff Nature Preserve and surrounding nature preserve land, the District has designed and adopted a detailed natural-areas management plan. It specifies rules that are consistent with the Illinois Natural Areas Preservation Act and collaborates with joint rules for management of state nature preserves, including the proper use of the area by scientists, educators, and the public.
From Route 59, take Hawthorne Lane west and turn south on Industrial Drive. The entrance is just south of Western Drive.
The West Chicago Prairie is open daily but the parking lot is closed Dec. 1, 2017 ‒ Feb. 28, 2018. To access West Chicago Prairie by foot, park at Reed-Keppler Park and walk across the bridge at the Prairie Path. Please note: Park hours may not be the same as preserve hours. The portable latrine is unavailable.