Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, located in Wilmington, Illinois, is a sprawling natural wonderland that offers a variety of recreational activities for outdoor enthusiasts. One of the most popular activities at Midewin is horseback riding, and there are several stunning trails that cater specifically to equestrians. Here, we have compiled a list of the top horse trails in Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, where riders can experience the beauty of this unique landscape while enjoying a peaceful ride.
1. Iron Bridge Trail: This 6-mile loop trail is the perfect choice for horseback riders of all skill levels. Offering scenic views of the tallgrass prairie, the trail winds through woodlands and crosses the iconic iron bridge, built in 1934. This trail also features diverse wildlife and a chance to spot birds like the eastern bluebird and red-tailed hawks along the way.
2. Wauponsee Glacial Trail: Stretching for over 20 miles, the Wauponsee Glacial Trail is a multi-use path that welcomes horseback riders, hikers, and cyclists. This trail features well-maintained gravel surfaces and takes riders through picturesque restored prairies, wetlands, and woodlands. Horseback riders can explore multiple sections of this trail, allowing for a customizable and enjoyable ride.
3. Motus Circle Trail: Located in the northeastern section of Midewin, the Motus Circle Trail is a 3.1-mile loop trail known for its equestrian-friendly features. The trail highlights the area's native flora, including the vibrant wildflowers blooming in spring and summer. Riders can also spot various wildlife, including deer, coyotes, and numerous bird species.
4. Buffalo Viewing Area Loop: The Buffalo Viewing Area Loop is a 2-mile trail that provides riders with a unique chance to see the resident bison herd at Midewin. As you ride along this scenic loop, keep an eye out for these majestic creatures grazing in the distance. Remember to maintain a safe distance and respect the bison's space.
5. South Patrol Road Loop: The South Patrol Road Loop is a longer trail, spanning approximately 6 miles, that takes riders through diverse habitats and beautiful scenery. Riders can witness the transformation of the landscape as they move from woodlands to grasslands, offering a vibrant display of colors throughout the year. This trail also offers opportunities for birdwatching and spotting other wildlife species.
It is important to note that all riders should obtain and carry a trail map, stay on designated trails, and follow any specific guidelines provided by Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. Additionally, riders should be prepared, carry adequate supplies, and practice Leave No Trace principles to ensure the preservation and protection of this pristine ecosystem.
Before setting out on your horseback riding adventure, make sure to check Midewin's website or contact the visitor center for any trail closures or updates. Also, it is highly recommended to bring your own horse as there are no rental or guided horseback riding services available within the park.
Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is truly a paradise for horseback riding enthusiasts. With its stunning landscapes, diverse wildlife, and well-maintained trails, it offers a unique opportunity to connect with nature while exploring the beauty of the tallgrass prairie. So saddle up, put on your riding boots, and embark on an unforgettable equestrian adventure at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie!