Big Rock Trails
Is it possible to experience 12,000 years of landscape history by taking a 1.3 mile walk? Yes. Walk or hike Heritage Trail and see evidence of human history. Patterns of tree distribution along the trail tell intricate tales of soil characteristics, prairie fire, and human habitation. A large granite boulder, we call Big Rock, silently testifies to the mighty power of the glaciers. An abandoned saw mill road reveals just how important an oak grove was to pioneer settlers. Great old bur oaks and walnuts quietly recall the lives and cultures of Native Americans who lived in their shade.
Heritage Trail is delicate with wildflowers in spring, vibrant green in summer, brilliant in autumn color, and serene in winter. The trail begins at the Big Rock Visitor Station (P-13). A short, paved loop at the visitor station introduces you to some of the plants and habitats you will discover as you walk Heritage Trail. Interpretive panels along the trail assist you in recognizing the many stories the land tells.
If you're looking for a short (0.6-mile) 20-40 minute winter walk, Woodland Trail is perfect. Start from Big Rock Visitor Station. The exhibit panels you'll find along the trail provide a little extra information about the plants and animals you might encounter.
As you begin your walk, take a look at the trees around you. This is a mesic woodland which means the area is usually moist and well-drained. Ironwood, bur oak, red oak, white oak, sugar maple, and white ash are the most common trees you'll find.
As you continue on the trail, be on the lookout for four-legged or winged residents. Animals are part of any healthy woodland. See if you can find scat (droppings), fur or feathers, tracks, or nests in the snow.