Cary Junior High Prairie

Nature Preserve Area: 
Location and Access: 
From jct. Hwy. 14 (Northwest Hwy.) and First Street in Cary, go north on First Street 0.3 mile, then turn and go east 0.2 mile and then north 0.2 mile to Cary Junior High School. The nature preserve is on the hillside south of the school building.

Special Note: A trail system has been developed and interpretive brochures are available. Cary Junior High Prairie is used by the owner and other neighboring school districts as an outdoor classroom. Use by the public is limited to programs developed by the district and through special arrangement made through the principal of Cary Junior High School.

Cary Junior High Prairie contains dry to dry-mesic gravel prairie of the Northeastern Morainal Natural Division. The preserve represents the rolling gravel prairies that occurred in the Fox River watershed. Today, gravel prairies have been reduced to fewer than 25 acres in the northeastern region and to only 100 acres statewide. Cary Junior High Prairie is one of only 5 gravel prairies protected in Illinois. The dominant grasses are little bluestem and Indian grass and common associates are side-oats gramma and porcupine grass. Prevalent forbs include leadplant, coreopsis, blazing star and puccoon. A detailed inventory of insects and spiders revealed 146 arthropod species, of which several are thought to be rare. Resident mammals include thirteen-lined ground squirrel, skunk and rabbit. Cary Junior High Prairie was the first nature preserve dedicated by a school district.
McHenry County Board of School Trustees
July 1982
4.6 acres
Topographic Quad: 
Topo Map: 
For further information: 
Contact: Principal, Cary Junior High School, 233 East Oriole Trail, Cary, IL 60013 (708/639-2148); Cary Prairie Management Committee, 812 Three Oaks Road, Cary, IL 60013 (708/639-4099)

1/2009 - R. Heidorn