This small opening in the woods is a dry hill prairie, which is sometimes referred to as a barren.  Prairie, like oak-hickory forest, is a relatively dry-habitat plant community that was established in Illinois about 8,000 years ago, shortly after the last glacial period ended.  The grasses and flowers here are selections of native prairie plants that are specially adapted to grow in the thin, dry soil on this dolostone bluff.  Even in these dry, fragile conditions non-native plants have invaded and the forest trees have been closing in for years.  This opening, along with others like it throughout the Forest Preserve, is now maintained by occasional controlled burning.  Hopefully these early spring fires will discourage the spread of the non-native "weeds" and promote the recovery of native species.  

Turn right at the next trail junction to continue to #23