Isolated park features geologically formed Esker Trail,
species: the savanna blazing star
Sauers Holdings Nature Preserve offers one of the greatest
opportunities for solitude in the Chicago Wilderness area.
In the middle of the 1,670-acre preserve, 3/4 mile from
any road, lies the most isolated spot in Cook County.
the east, take the Stevenson Expressway (I-55) to
Rte. 45. Go south on Rte. 45 to Rte. 83, then go north
on Rte. 83. Cap Sauers Holdings is bordered by Willow
Springs Rd. (104th Ave.) on the east and Rte. 83 on
preserve features almost 15 miles of foot paths, ideal for
weekend hikers, as well as about eight miles of large, multi-purpose
trails designed for horseback riding and mountain biking.
Although the trails are not groomed for skiing, adventuresome
cross-country skiers often glide into the woods during the
winter. Those who brave the cold might glimpse the great
horned owls that reside at the preserve during the late
winter months, stumble upon some coyote tracks, or find
themselves face to face with one of the many white-tailed
deer that roam freely here.
terrain encompassed by Cap Sauers Holdings varies greatly.
Vast, open oak woodlands cloak the rolling uplands. Streams
which flow into the Sag valley to the north cut deep ravines,
which harbor forest communities dotted with black walnut,
ash, and basswood. Many ponds and wetlands are scattered
here and there.
of this territory was grazed and farmed heavily before the
land was purchased by Cook County. It was named for a longtime
superintendent of the Forest Preserve District, and was
dedicated as one of the first Illinois Nature Preserves
in January, 1965.
of the most striking features of the preserve is geologic.
From the Esker Trail, named for the glacial formation it
follows, visitors can view one of the best examples of an
esker in Illinois. The southern part of the preserve was
originally prairie. You can reach the Visitation Prairie
from the Esker Trail, located just off of Rte. 83. Through
prescribed burnings and clearings by district staff and
volunteers, much invasive brush has been removed and the
original beauty of the prairie restored. The prairie itself,
in addition to serving as Solitude Central for Frazzled
Urbanites, harbors one of largest surviving populations
of a threatened species the savanna blazing star.
Sauers Holdings does not have on-site parking or a main
trailhead. Visitors can park at Teasons Woods on the southeast
corner of the intersection of Rte. 83 and Willow Springs
Rd. (104th Ave.) or at Horse Tail Slough on Willow Springs
Rd. (104th Ave.) just north of McCarthy Rd. (123rd St.).
From there, find one of the multi-purpose trails marked
with a gray Forest Preserve District sign and follow it
into the discovery zone of this vast and varied preserve.
Or you can park along Rte. 83 at the 'Take a Hike' sign
that marks the beginning of the Esker Trail.
Sauers Holdings is open from dusk until dawn. For more information,
call the Forest Preserve District of Cook County at (630)
257-2045. Directions From the east, take the Stevenson Expressway
(I-55) to Rte. 45. Go south on Rte. 45 to Rte. 83, then
go north on Rte. 83. Cap Sauers Holdings is bordered by
Willow Springs Rd. (104th Ave.) on the east and Rte. 83
on the north.
M. Kathleen Pratt