Theodore Stone

 

Theodore Stone’s 142 acres support unique dolomite prairie, oak savanna and woodland.

To hear the active restoration volunteers at Theodore Stone Forest Preserve tell it, this modest 142-acre forest preserve, with its unique dolomite prairie, oak savanna and woodland, is like an unfinished novel. Each workday reveals another chapter of its long geologic and botanical history, but there are many more pages to write. Visitors to Theodore Stone benefit from the hard work of volunteer stewards, Forest Preserve staff and others as invasive plants are removed and native plants reclaim the land.

 

Enjoying Theodore Stone

Visitors can explore the preserve along an informal, unmarked network of narrow footpaths that allow the examination of plants and insects up-close. (Closed-toed shoes and long pants are a good idea.) To enjoy one particularly scenic and easy-to-access overlook, cross into the preserve through a brief marshy area just north of the parking lot. Then head left (west) about 150 yards and travel up a ridge toward the northwest where a savanna of stately oaks opens up to overlook a creek. Similar footpaths lead visitors deeper into the prairie and savanna.

 

There are many opportunities to be part of the restoration process at Theodore Stone, where volunteers are pushing back invasive species such as buckthorn and garlic mustard to bring back nearly lost habitats such as dolomite prairie.

A mowed area surrounds the parking lot, offering two large picnic groves, each of which can hold a couple hundred picnickers. Neighboring forest preserves Arie Crown Forest and Sundown Meadow offer amenities such as fishing, model boating, additional picnic areas and unpaved trails for hiking, biking and cross-country skiing.

 

Nature at Theodore Stone

The northeastern portion of Theodore Stone supports dolomite prairie, where thin topsoil and exposed bedrock makes it difficult for trees and other big plants to grow. Plants in this part of the preserve include false pennyroyal and short grass that creates a green carpet over the rocks in the summer. The western prairie and savanna sections of the preserve are home to purple milkweed, sky-blue aster, bitternut hickory, downy wood mint, marsh marigold and rough blazing star, which take turns blooming all through the growing season. In all, more than 180 native plant species can be found throughout the preserve, which make it a great classroom for Chicago Botanic Garden plant ID classes. Small mammals—and the occasional coyote—also make themselves at home at Theodore Stone.

  • Location

  • Hodgkins, Illinois

    SW Cook County


    142 acres


    Best for

    Ecological Management SiteBird WatchingPicnic GroveShelters

    Top Three Tips

    1. Informal footpaths provide good starting points for exploration. Hikers should wear closed-toed shoes and be prepared for some mud.
    2. Restoration is ongoing in Theodore Stone. Volunteers are always welcome and should visit the Forest Preserve District's volunteer page for more information.
    3. Two large picnic grove areas in Theodore Stone, along the parking area, can accommodate big groups. Groups of 25 or more must obtain a picnic permit from either fpdcc.com or the District's General Headquarters.


    Directions

    From I-55, take the South LaGrange Road exit north to the first light at 67th Street. Turn east on 67th. The preserve entrance will be on the north side of the street.


    Des Plaines River Valley Restoration Project

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