Quinn Oak Openings Professional Guide
Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook
"The sign at the parking area reads “Quinn Oak Openings – Area of Exceptional Forest Character.” We’ll vouch for the exceptional character of the forests, grass fields, scrub brush fields, and swamps. This wonderfully diverse area is home to many birds, butterflies, animals, and over 400 species of plants. It’s also a magical place for us humans to wander. Approximately 4,000 years ago a major drought caused the demise of many native species of trees and allowed midwestern prairie plants to move east. It created fields of tall grass prairies surrounded by oak forests – an oak opening. The Indians noticed that these grass openings were havens from bugs and allowed them to get a broader view of approaching enemies so they kept the grasslands open with fire. The absence of trees in the oak openings made them easy targets for farmers. As white settlers moved in, many of the oak openings were put to use to raise crops. Quinn Oak Openings is one of fewer than 20 oak openings remaining in the world. It was spared because limestone is only a few inches below the surface so it was hard to plow and virtually impossible to sink fence posts. This land was privately owned and was used to graze cows. The farmers continued periodic burnings to encourage grass growth. Today, D.E.C continues this practice to save this unique resource. The trails can be a challenge to follow. They may be overgrown if it’s been awhile since the last mowing or obscured by a blanket of leaves in fall. Sometimes the D.E.C. mows new channels through the grasslands, so the trails shown on the map may vary. Even so, this area is worth exploration. It’s unlikely that you’ll run into other humans. You’re much more likely to scare up deer during your walk. Pay attention to the trees along the way. You’ll find rare cinquapin oak and prickly ash. The grass is called indian grass and grows 6 to 7 feet tall. It’s quite a sight in September at its full height with seed heads waving in the autumn breeze. Surface: Dirt and mowed field trails."