R. Robert Funderburg Forest Preserve is the newest addition to the Forest Preserves of Winnebago County. This preserve is only a few minutes from downtown Rockford and has 8 miles of trails that bring you through many different ecosystems. This property is unique because much of this land remained undeveloped when the Funderburg family owned it before it became a forest preserve in 2020. This is why there are many established areas of forest and prairie within this preserve.
Funderburg Forest Preserve truly stands out in March and April when the first few plant species are just beginning to emerge. The wooded area in the northern half of the preserve is a great place to see skunk cabbage, hepatica, Virginia waterleaf, violets, trilliums, and many other indicators of early spring. It is also home to many birds including barred owls, eastern towhees, scarlet rangers, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, downy and hairy woodpeckers, red-bellied woodpeckers, as well as the occasional red-headed and pileated woodpecker.
I recently went for a walk through Funderburg Forest Preserve in search of indicators of early spring. It was a chilly, cloudy spring day before any flowers were blooming. This walk was a great reminder for me to focus on the small things this time of year, especially at preserves that are as large as Funderburg. It can be easy to start walking and forget to really immerse yourself in your surroundings. However, noticing little details like the brightness of green moss, analyzing the texture of a fungus on a downed log, or generally being curious about your surroundings truly brings out the beauty of this time of year. At a glance, early spring may seem less beautiful than later in the season, but the transition from winter to spring has many hidden gems like skunk cabbage, hepatica, Virginia waterleaf, and trilliums that are only present for a few weeks. Preserves like Funderburg highlight these gems beautifully.
Here are some of my favorite little gems from my walk through Funderburg:
Funderburg Forest Preserve is located at: 4551 S. Meridian Road, Rockford IL, 61102
Learn about the history of Funderburg Forest Preserve here
Learn more about the amenities at Funderburg Forest Preserve here
Map of Funderburg Forest Preserve