Wilsonious via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Bordering the Calumet River on 130th Street and Torrence Avenue, Hegewish Marsh offers a natural oasis to enjoy. According to the Chicago Park District, there are many habitats inside the marsh. The 129 acres of land includes native marsh, wetland, and wet prairie. Visitors will find trails to enjoy the site of meadows, cottontails, and cottonwood trees. The area was once the site of steel mills, and decades of efforts have gone into conserving the natural environment that still continue today. 

The Chicago Ornithological Society, which works to advance and conserve birds throughout the Chicago region, organizes bird walks at Hegewisch Marsh throughout the year; the marsh attracts migrating songbirds, Moorhens, Yellow-Headed Blackbirds, Marsh Wrens, and other wetland birds.

The marsh is perfect for children, and they can join the Southeast Side Junior Explorers for fun activities that cultivate a love for nature. Booklets, activity packs, and information on how to join can be found at the Ford Calumet Environmental Center.

If you have time left over after your trip to Hegewish Marsh, just a few miles north you’ll find Big Marsh Park in the South Deering neighborhood, where you can enjoy an environmental center and exhibit that opened in 2021. It features more paved trails, scenic views, and even a bike shop. Indian Ridge Marsh and Burnham Prairie Nature Preserve are also just a few miles away for hiking, camping and birdwatching. Also check out the Ford Calumet Environmental Center for more information about parks and activities around the Southeast Side of the city.

Hegewisch Marsh, 13298 S. Torrence Ave. Daily, dawn to dusk. chicagosesideparks.com

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