In a peaceful corner of Techny Prairie Park and Fields, the Northbrook Park District has created a unique natural history walk to educate the community and benefit the environment. Along the West Fork of the North Branch of the Chicago River, the 14-acre Trail Through Time shows visitors how early settlers developed a relationship with the land and encourages interaction with nature. Stop by and travel back in time.

In the Trail Through Time, the Park District restored an old farm field and created an ecosystem, with a restored prairie and two wetlands that are home to mammals, birds and insects. As the site matures, the variety of species continues to increase. Highlighting the native landscapes are five main components:

  • a classic council ring
  • a boardwalk over the wetland
  • a Native American hunting camp
  • the foundation of a sod school house
  • a discovery garden in a formal setting.

Each site has educational signs and suggested activities, in addition to providing space for spontaneous play.

Visitors can enjoy the Trail through active or passive experiences, including self-directed interpretation. Children can race through tall grasses and study insects, developing a deeper understanding of the environment as they learn how pioneers relied on natural resources. They can build houses out of sod and use plants for cooking and making toys. Guests can sit on the boardwalk and enjoy birds, plants and vistas rarely found in a suburban village. Photographers and painters can record the seasons through their art.

By restoring the land, providing a home for wildlife, offering a variety of experiences and illustrating life on the prairie, the Trail Through Time encourages exploration of the natural world. Children and adults who visit the Trail Through Time will leave with a better understanding of the spirit of the pioneers, the value of prairie, wetlands and open space, and the need for balance in the environment. The Park District has transformed an old field into a rich marshland habitat where learning can take place every day, with nature as the teacher.