Although it’s one of the county’s smaller forest preserves, the 263-acre Churchill Woods Forest Preserve in Glen Ellyn is home to an impressive range of habitats.
Babcock Grove, a savanna, surrounds visitors with bur oak, white oak and black maple trees. This open woodland, which runs along both sides of St. Charles Road, is named for brothers Ralph and Morgan Babcock, two of the county’s first settlers of European descent.
Some of the grove’s white oaks date back to the 1830s, a time when settlers left seedlings untouched as they logged mature oaks for new plank roads. (Some say Winslow Churchill complained about the noise from the horse-drawn traffic that clattered over the planks on St. Charles Road, which kept him awake at night.)
Within Babcock Grove, wildflower enthusiasts can look for a variety of interesting species, including Dutchman’s breeches, wild strawberry, yellow touch-me-not, with its long-seeded pods that spring open when touched, and hairy hog peanut, a legume with peanut-like nodules that grows in a former grazing area for hogs.
Churchill Prairie Nature Preserve
Churchill Prairie Nature Preserve contains one of the county’s few remaining native prairies. Home to several state-endangered and threatened species, the prairie is located in a sand and gravel outwash plain swale of the DuPage River Valley that is embedded in the surrounding Valparaiso moraine. It is the second largest native prairie in the county, with West Chicago Prairie Nature Preserve being the largest.
In accordance with the Illinois Natural Areas Preservation Act, bicycles, pets and horses must remain on the limestone trail.
District staff and Natural Resource Management volunteers spend countless hours each year restoring this rare habitat, which the state designated as an Illinois Nature Preserve in 1992. Using prescription fires, brush clearing, seed planting and other restoration techniques, crews encourage the growth of native species.