Meeting Place: Sugar Grove Nature Center 1:30 pm Sunday 3/3/18. The Center building will be opened especially for us so we will get organized in the building. The Sugar Grove Nature Center charges a $1.50/person use fee for groups over 10 people to help pay for maintenance of the preserve.
This will be a 2.0 mile hike through the prairie and sugar groves of the Sugar Grove Nature Center. Funk's Grove is the last largely undisturbed Prairie Grove left in Illinois. Such a place is rare in the Midwest. With 1,100 acres of woods, it is one of only three places in Central Illinois with more than 500 acres of contiguous forest. Funk's grove is especially interesting because the typical oak-hickory forest found in Illinois has transitioned into one that has a large number of Sugar Maples. As a result portions of the grove have been designated a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service. Our hike will go through the Ewing Grove, a younger grove that is expanding into former pasture land.
The Sugar Grove Nature Center is a private not-for-profit partnership of the Funks Grove Cemetery Association, the Sugar Grove Foundation and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to preserve key portions of the grove. Much of the privately owned portion of the grove outside the nature center is preserved as part of the southern most commercial maple sirup (local spelling) operation in the United States.
Our hike should be at peak time for the commercial maple sirup operation and you may want to consider visiting it before or after the club-sponsored hike. Funks Grove Pure Maple Sirup will be open 1-5pm on Sunday. Your will see it on your right as you drive north from McLean on historic US 66 into Funks Grove (see directions below).
Contact Steve Soltys at 217-899-9996 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to RSVP. Limited to 20 individuals All participants will be required to sign a Sierra Club assumption of risks form. Minors must be accompanied by a legal guardian or have a Minor's assumption of risk and permission to access treatment form filled out by legal guardian.
Directions from Springfield (1 hour 5 minutes): Take I-55 north to exit 145 at McLean. (US 136). Turn left off the exit onto US 136. In 0.4 miles turn right onto historic US Route 66 (Main Street with sign to Funks Grove) and then follow signs for historic Route 66 north 4.7 miles until you get to Funks Grove (the only big area of trees in the region). You should see direction signs for the Sugar Grove Nature Center in Funks Grove but incase they are gone: Turn left in Funks Grove onto Funks Road (about 1/4 mile after you pass Funks Grove Pure Maple Sirup on the right), then left on 800 East Road. 800 East Road will turn right and become 550 North Road and then will turn left and become 725 East Road. About a mile down will be the Sugar Grove Nature Center Parking Lot on the right (it is the second parking lot you will see on your right and has buildings).