Bartel Grassland


As restoration opens up the landscape, the flat, wet Bartel Grassland is home to an increasing variety of native plant and bird species.

A former agricultural field divided by hedgerows, Bartel Grassland is now home to an increasing variety of native plant and bird species as restoration efforts open up the landscape and encourage natural processes. The 585-acre prairie is located at the far south end of the larger complex known as the Tinley or South Green Belt Preserves.


Enjoying Bartel

Bird and nature enthusiasts will enjoy walking through the open grasslands, listening and looking for a host of birds unique to this region. A mowed trail leads from the parking lot to an observation area with a mound that visitors can climb to survey the surrounding plain. From here, visitors can continue west on a trail adjacent to Flossmoor Road that follows the perimeter of the grassland.


Participating in volunteer restoration is one of the best ways to enjoy and develop a deeper understanding of Bartel Grassland. Volunteers with a range of experience can learn about invasive plant control, seed harvesting, hydrological restoration and more, while gaining an insight into the rich ecological history at Bartel. The citizen-led Bartel Grassland Volunteers hosts workshops and volunteer sessions throughout the year.


To make a day of it, throw in a picnic. A few picnic tables are available at the Bartel parking lot. The Killdeer Wetland parking lot is across Flossmoor Road on the north side of the street and the Bobolink family picnic area is about a half-mile north on Central Avenue.



Nature at Bartel

Spread across a low, flat plain, this land once attracted scores of species of breeding grassland and wetland birds. Decades of agricultural use, however, including the planting of Osage orange trees to create hedgerows and the draining of wet areas, divided the site and reduced its usefulness as a breeding site. (Grassland birds need large, treeless expanses to nest.) Restoration work has encouraged many species to return, however, and it is now recognized by Audubon as an Important Bird Area for bobolink. Bartel once again serves as breeding habitat for grassland birds, many of which migrate here from South and Central America every summer. Birders may see bobolink, eastern meadowlark, grasshopper sparrow, Henslow’s sparrow, savannah sparrow, sedge wren, and dickcissel. Look for short-eared owl and northern harriers in the winter.


Scan the wide expanse with binoculars to spot coyotes and deer in the distance.

  • Location

  • Matteson, Illinois

    SW Cook County

    585 acres

    Best for

    BirdingEcological Management Site

    Top Three Tips

    1. Traveling west, the parking lot is immediately after the stop sign at the intersection of Flossmoor and Central. Look for the sign on the left (south) side of the road.

    2. Sections of Bartel Grassland are wetland. If there has been rain or snow in the days leading up to a visit, be prepared for mud and attempt to stay on higher ground.

    3. Keep to the site's mowed footpaths, and stay on the perimeter from June to early August so as not to disturb nesting birds in the preserve's interior. Dogs must be leashed at all times.


    From I-57 South, take exit 342B for Vollmer Road West. Continue west on Vollmer to Central Avenue. Turn north on Central and west on Flossmoor. The parking lot is almost at the intersection of Flossmoor and Central, on the south side of the road.

    Alternatively, from I-55 South, take exit 279A for US-50 South for approximately 8 miles. Turn west/right onto 183rd Street and south/left on Central Avenue. Turn west/right on Flossmoor.

    Volunteer in the Forest Preserves

Visit two of the treasures of the Forest Preserves of Cook County