Address: 9560 Withers Road, Loami, Illinois.
This is a massive prairie restoration near Loami, built from old farmland about a decade ago and opened to the public in 2012. Nipper is a bit of a hidden gem for all seasons. Unlike many preserves, winter is one of the best times to go. State -endangered migratory birds of prey such as the short-eared owl and northern harrier visit during the winter months. Checking nearby fields is highly recommended for finding even more of these birds, but they do stick near the prairie. Below is a Northern Harrier in a likely site, a field within two miles of the preserve:
This place is a chance to experience Illinois as it used to be, a chance to be able to see nothing but tallgrass prairie all around you. It's about a half-hour from Springfield, and you will be rewarded if you go. Even young children can manage.
Best Trails: South Prairie Overlook/ Main Trail
This is basically a short loop around the building and pond. It's ideal for children, and there are longer and rougher trails across the road. There are really few named trails, so honestly, it's kind of pointless to talk about best trails.
Features of Interest: Other than the two main birds of prey, there are a chain of prairie ponds where king rails and other rare species have been seen, a rare albino deer that occasionally is seen around the property, a stunning prairie wildflower display May-October, and a beautiful nature preserve where no state dollars have been spent. A warning to those who go in winter: There is no protection from the wind, and it can be quite chilly to watch those owls and harriers. Also, bring binoculars. This is a prime birding area, and you need them.
If you have any interest in nature in Illinois, you need to visit. If you live in Sangamon County, why haven't you visited already?