Somme Preserves

open prairie area at Somme Prairie Grove

From east to west, the Somme Preserves in Northbrook progress from shaded woodland to sun-dappled savanna and finally to wide-open prairie. Pioneering habitat restoration efforts started here in the 1970s and continue today.

On this page:


Locations & Things to Do

The Somme Preserves include:


Somme Woods

Entrance

Dundee Rd, east of S Waukegan Ave
Northbrook, IL 60062

Hours

Year-round: Sunrise to Sunset

Closures & Alerts


Somme Prairie Grove

Things to Do & Amenities

Hours

Year-round: Sunrise to Sunset

Closures & Alerts


Somme Prairie Nature Preserve

Things to Do & Amenities

  1. Service dogs are allowed at most public locations. View accessibility policies.
Illinois Nature Preserve: This land is designated as one of the highest quality natural areas in the state by the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission. This status includes increased levels of legal protection and management. Learn more on the Illinois Nature Preserves Page.

Hours

Year-round: Sunrise to Sunset

Closures & Alerts


A ruby-throated humming bird feeding on cardinal flower at Somme. Photo by Lisa Culp.
A ruby-throated humming bird feeding on cardinal flower at Somme. Photo by Lisa Culp.

Nature Notes

From east to west, the Somme Preserves in Northbrook progress from shaded woodland to sun-dappled savanna and finally to wide-open prairie. But several decades ago, this natural distribution of ecosystems wasn’t so easy to discern, having become shrouded by dense thickets of invasive buckthorn.

Active restoration has taken place in the Somme Preserves since the 1970s. Buckthorn and other invasive species have been removed from large areas, and a diversity of plant and animal life has returned. The work of countless volunteers has transformed the Somme Preserves into an ever-changing display of wildflowers, birds and other seasonal inhabitants.

Two-hundred-sixty-nine-acre Somme Woods is the easternmost of the three Somme Preserves, and the most wooded. Many parts of the woods now have a much more open feel, with woodland wildflowers once again thriving under giant oaks.

Across Waukegan Road to the west, 90-acre Somme Prairie Grove is savanna, a kind of grassland with scattered trees. A network narrow, unpaved footpaths meanders through the preserve.

West of the train tracks and Chicago River, 74-acre Somme Prairie Nature Preserve is mainly open grassland. Dedicated as a state nature preserve for its high-quality prairie community, Somme Prairie also has a network of unpaved footpaths that allow hikers to feel a part of the prairie, observing plants and insects up close. Given Somme Prairie’s nature preserve designation, dogs are not allowed.

Birders travel the trails in the Somme Preserves to look for red-tailed hawks, indigo buntings, red-headed woodpeckers, great crested flycatchers, eastern bluebirds and rose-breasted grosbeaks.

Buckeye butterflies flit among the cardinal flowers, fringed gentian, blazing star, blue flag iris and stout blue-eyed grass. Somme also hosts butterflies such as great-spangled fritillary, wood nymph, eyed-brown. Coyotes enjoy these preserves, as do the chorus frogs that sing from the ponds and marshy areas.

Learn more about restoration efforts at the Somme Preserves:


Volunteer Opportunities

The volunteer restoration efforts that started in the 1970s are ongoing at all three Somme Preserves.