Visit Reed-Turner Woodlands
Intimate preserve features oak covered morainal ridges bordering the deep ravine of Indian Creek
The rich history of Reed-Turner Woodland, a 36-acre section of the original grove of oak and hickory trees for which Long Grove was named, becomes evident even before stepping into the small preserve. Sitting by the fireplace in the rustic nature center, Barbara Reed Turner explains: “This is my old house. My parents built the house in 1929.” Turner, who donated this land for conservation in 1976, still lives on the preserve. She has served as steward of the site, now an Illinois State Nature Preserve, for decades.
Just outside the center, red and white oaks overlook the south branch of Indian Creek. Woodchip footpaths diverge from the nature center, ideal for birding, photography, and nature walks. The North Ridge Trail runs along a moraine, through an oak woodland and then open bur oak savanna. The trail then crosses Indian Creek over a wooden boardwalk. Running along a deep natural corridor, the creek has received significant work to stabilize its banks and revitalize streamside habitat. The sedge meadow is beautiful in the summer after years earlier of restoration work.
The South Ridge Trail passes through a forest of red oak and sugar maple, then back over the wet meadow. From the South Ridge Trail, the Pond View Trail continues to a bur and scarlet oak savanna. On a hot summer day, visitors can cool off by the lake breeze beside Reed Pond, an eight-acre bay of the much larger Salem Lake. The trail continues through a prairie opening and back into oak woodland.
Potawatomi and Miami Indians once kept this landscape open and healthy with their use of fire. But Europeans who settled the Long Grove area in the 1830’s suppressed the use of fire and resulting from that suppression, a boom of fire-sensitive species such as black cherry, ironwood, and black walnut. The closed canopy allowed aggressive, shade-tolerant invasive species such as garlic mustard and buckthorn dominate the flora today. However, hard work by volunteers has almost eradicated them.
“We have a good resident bird group – woodpeckers, finches, red-tailed hawks, Cooper’s hawks, and mallards that nest along the creek,” says Turner, illustrating why the preserve, which also hosts a vibrant wave of migrant warblers, is so popular among birders. Other summertime residents include indigo bunting, red-eyed vireo, and great crested flycatcher. Summer flora includes elm-leaved and zigzag goldenrod, bottle gentian, great blue lobelia, and cardinal flower, but visitors should not miss the rich spring wildflower display for which the preserve has gained a reputation.