easily navigable trails, this is a perfect spot to teach
children about favorite and familiar plants of the prairie
child's curiosity is momentarily quenched with a visit to
Heller Nature Center in Highland Park. This 100-acre preserve
owned by the Park District of Highland Park offers many
lessons and adventures for the young of all ages. The preserve
is easy to navigate. The two-and-a-half miles of trails
are clearly marked and color-coded so visitors can refer
to maps in order to choose which section of the preserve
they wish to explore. These trails lead Heller visitors
through an ever-changing landscape.
Route 41 to Route 22 (Half Day Rd.) west. At the second
light take Ridge Road north (the first light is Ridge
Road south). The center will be ahead on the right.
journey begins at the nature center's main building where
educational literature about creatures and activities is
found. Beautiful photographs and artwork of native flora
and fauna adorn the walls. Friendly naturalists are present
to answer any questions.
of the preserve is comprised of deciduous oak-dominated
woodland. In spring the forest floor is dotted with colorful
woodland wildflowers, such as trout lily, Dutchman's breeches,
May apple, wood anemone, Solomon's seal, white trillium,
Jack-in-the-pulpit, and toothwort. Visitors can also hope
to spot red-shouldered and Cooper's hawks.
section of Heller devoted to the prairie is, as prairies
often are, a bright and swaying wonder. This is a perfect
spot to teach kids about favorite and familiar plants of
the prairie, including rattlesnake master, prairie dock,
big and little bluestem, purple coneflower, compass plant,
and blazing star.
fascinating and educational spot at Heller is the small
pond. The pond's aeration system that provides essential
oxygen is powered with solar energy, collected by solar
panels on the roof of the small overlook to the wetland
area. This provides an excellent opportunity to teach kids
how high levels of oxygen keep wetlands healthy. Additionally,
it demonstrates a practical alternative to fossil fuels.
A sign posted at the overlook explains the innovative system
and its benefits.
your childlike curiosity get the best of you! Head out to
Heller and take part in one of their many educational programs
for all ages, or just explore!