Bluff Spring Fen, Illinois Nature Preserve

Part of the Kenno's Blog series.
By Ken Brown
Editor, You Can Learn Series
August 9, 2012
Map of Bluff Spring Fen.

Here is how I originally found the park. A green spot close to home. I need to check this place.

I was looking at Google maps the other day and I noticed a green area near my home. Upon closer examination I discovered there was an Illinois Nature Preserve only 5 miles from my house. The name of the Nature Preserve is Bluff Spring Fen. I did a little research and found out it was something Mary and I would enjoy. So, a week later on a nice Saturday morning we drove over to see it.

Bluff Spring Fen entrance

Information sign tells you what to expect when walking through the park. No dogs and no swimming.

You have to drive through a cemetery to get to it which is an interesting experience since there are hundreds of plots and huge masoleums. I saw some grave sites dated in the mid 1800s. But you drive to the southwest corner of the cemetery in the large city of Elgin and you come upon a small patch of paradise.

Bluff Spring Fen Ecological Management Site

You are greeted at the entrance by a sign labeled, Ecological Management Site. This is where you can pick up a map that shows the paths and tells you about the flowers you may see on your visit. The map was very nicely done and proved to be very informative. Then as you enter the park you see a huge rock telling you that you are entering Bluff Spring Fen an Illinois Nature Preserve.

Bluff Spring Fen Rock

This rock was huge and quite a momument to the nature preserve.

The nature preserve is maintained by a small number of volunteers. They help maintain the paths and work hard to prevent invasive species from taking over the park. Each week you visit there is a different flower blooming. I think Mary and I arrived a week late to see some real beauty. You may be asking, what is a fen? Well according to the brochure at the park, a fen is an area where water comes up from the ground. This water helps keep the flowers healthy and there is a small creek that runs through the property.

Flowers found in Bluff Springs Fen Illinois Nature Preserve.

One of many flowers found in Bluff Springs Fen nature preserve.

As you can see from the photos, the paths are the size of human foot traffic and it is recommended you wear long sleeves and long pants and hiking boots. It was 80 degrees the day we visited and we are glad we followed the recommendations. There were a couple of areas that we weren't entirely sure we were on the right path, but everything seemed to work out okay.

Your first view of Bluff Spring Fen.
Your first view when entering Bluff Spring Fen. As you can see not much room on the path.

Bluff Spring Fen Rock
A small bridge over water from the fen or springs. Single file only on the bridge.

There are three large kames on the property. If you remember from your high school geology classes you will know that kames are produced by glaciers. As the glacier retreats it leaves a large mound of gravel and sand that has been scraped from the land by the moving glacier. The people that worked to preserve the property had to fight a company in the adjoining property that excavates gravel for commercial purposes.

Mary in front of a Kame created by retreating glaciers.

Mary in front of one of three kames found on the property. You can climb two of the kames for a better view of the entire park. It is a great place for bird watching.

We met a couple of the members that maintain the property and one of them proceeded to tell us about a hill at the south east side of the property where the land was excavated and then an ecological system was moved onto the excavated area. There is even an old car that had been pushed into the depression and then buried.

The fen is where the water comes out of the ground. Where the name Bluff Springs comes from.

Water seeps from the ground from three places within the park.

Over all it is a beautiful area, with small birds, hawks, flowers, kames, and a natural environment that takes you away from the hustle and bustle of today's busy world into a small, quiet, peaceful retreat. If you live close to Elgin Illinois then take time on a weekend to visit Bluff Spring Fen Illinois Nature Preserve. It is interesting and each time you visit presents you with a different vista and experience.

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