Trails, Prairie and Gardens

We are surrounded by the Rock River, Turtle Creek and Kelly Creek, and you’ll find scenic beauty along our trails during every season. The campus offers a prairie trail, woodland trail and a beautiful river bottomland trail. 

We continue to develop trails and clean up the land on the over 90 acres of land along the Rock River, Turtle Creek and Kelly Creek. Volunteers have been a big part of helping clear trail and pick up garbage and are always needed to help with clean ups and trail work. If you’re interested in being involved, please click here to email us. 

Rock River Birding trailTrails

Rock River Birding & Hiking Trail – Explore this .75 mile rustic trail loop as it meanders in the Rock River bottom land. It starts at the confluence of Turtle Creek and the Rock River, and takes you out to Eagle Point, where you’ll see the eagle nest on Boney Island. Eagles have been raising young here for over 10 years. Then you’ll walk along Kelly Creek, which is a creek of concern that we’re working to clean up. You will need to safely cross the railroad tracks west of the nature center to access the trail. This trail may be inaccessible if train cars are parked on the tracks, so please do not use this trail if a train is present.

Doreen Dalman Woodland Trail – This trail along Kelly Creek was created in 2020. Kelly Creek is a natural spring that is co-mingled with storm water that flows into the Rock River. We continually clean up garbage that floats into the creek from the streets during storms. We will continue to work on the trail, adding native woodland plants and limestone benches. Friends of Doreen Dalman Fund and Grants from Illinois American Water Environmental Grant and ExtremeTerrain’s Clean Trail Grant Program supported these efforts. We’ll continue to improve this trail by removing invasive species and planting native woodland plants. 

Click here to view online Google map 

Click here to download PDF of Trail Map

Centennial Prairie Reconstruction

We are reconstructing five acres of prairie with native plants. The Confluence grounds was not originally a prairie, as it was naturally a marshy wetland. Over the last 75 years industrial fill was brought in to raise the land 8-10 feet. The prairie restoration is name in honor of South Beloit’s Centennial celebrated in 2017. Native prairie plants were planted with assistance from Tallgrass Restorations

Prairies are unique ecosystems dominated by grasses and other non-woody plants called forbs. Plants help maintain the diversity of the prairie ecosystem, attracting animals who use the prairie for food and habitat. As the Centennial Prairie continues to grow, we’ll see birds and mammals, and insects. Many species of birds use grassland habitats as their home. They use the prairie as a place to hunt for food, to hide their nests in the tall grasses, and to raise their young. If a prairie site doesn’t have a variety of plants, insects, birds, reptiles, and mammals will not choose the site as their home. Each animal needs specific types of plants for food and shelter. Some animals use only one type of plant. When a prairie has a large variety of plants, it attracts a wider variety of animals.

Learning Gardens

Our Learning Gardens are dynamic outdoor classrooms, showcasing edible gardens where people can learn about pollinators, nutritious foods, beneficial herbs, and healthy eating habits.  We utilize organic gardening methods, and use compost bins and rain barrels to support the gardens. All produce grown in our garden is free for visitors to taste, or harvest and take home to enjoy.