(Almost) Walking in Lincoln’s footsteps

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The Lincoln Memorial Gardens in Springfield, Illinois is a living memorial to America’s 16th President. Lincoln loved his solitary nature walks around his hometown of Springfield. While we will never know if this Lincoln ever traversed this piece of ground in particular, the park strives to keep the garden as natural as the ones he strolled in his brief lifetime. 



There are over six miles of trails. Most are wooded, but a few are in open prairies with ponds. The Park is located on the shores of Lake Springfield and provides stunning views of the coastline. 

The Gardens are located next to the Ostermeier Prarie Center. The center is a good starting point for your visit and offers trail maps. The trails are interwinding and circular, so it is fairly easy to disorient oneself.


The open prairie portion of the trails is especially nice on a sunny day. 
Geese sunning in a lagoon on Lake Springfield
Several of the ponds were quite marshy 
Turtles sunning themselves out of the murky water
Mosquitos can be a bit fierce, so make sure to use some repellent on your walk. 

When the land was purchased for the park in 1935, there were only twelve trees on the plot, The curators were responsible for creating the woodscape and were essentially starting from scratch. Sugar-Maple, Redbud, Dogwood, and White Oak (the state tree of Illinois) were planted. Some Bur Oak was also planted due to its fire-resistant qualities.

Many of the wooded trails come out to an open area with a pond. 
The Park is replete with lovely wooden benches which have quotes from Lincoln. A very nice touch. 
Many of the trails follow the shoreline of Lake Springfield. 


Most of the trails are unpaved but covered with impacted gravel or woodchips. Since a lot of the land is a marshy wetland the trail has many wooden bridges many are intricately crafted.

The Park is located in Southwest Springfield, Illinois on the banks of Lake Springfield. The Trails are open year-round and there is no admission charge. 

Pros: Flat, circular trails in which you can easily vary the distance, nice views of the lake, lagoons, and marshes. 

Cons: Not too many. Flat trails may be less challenging to more experienced Hiker/Walker. The abundant wetland could mean a lot of mosquitos, but the upside is that the wetlands also means a lot of birds and woodland creatures. 




2 Replies to “(Almost) Walking in Lincoln’s footsteps”

    1. My understanding is there is the Lincoln garden trail/Park which is operated by the city of Springfiled and a much larger Lincoln trail that runs from Springfield to new Salem IL where Lincoln lived for a time. I would have loved to visit that trail which is run by the NPS but time didn’t permit. Hopefully next time I’m there I can check out that one.

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