In the heartland of America, where fields of corn stretch for miles and prairies teem with wildlife, lies a hidden gem of nature. Illinois, known for its flat terrain and abundant farmland, boasts some of the largest trees in the country.

Most of Illinois' giant trees are south of Springfield.  But the largest is in a small town not too far from here.

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A History of Illinois Trees

Illinois, often referred to as the Prairie State, was once covered with oak-hickory forests that stretched as far as the eye could see. However, due to land clearing for agriculture and urbanization, the majority of the state's forests were lost.

Thankfully, efforts to preserve and replant trees have been successful, and Illinois now boasts some of the most impressive specimens in the country.

Stronghold Camp & Retreat Center
Stronghold Camp & Retreat Center

Illinois' Big Trees

Some of these trees are so large they take multiple people to circle them with their arms. While many of the trees are in forests, some are found in unexpected places, like backyards and cemeteries.

There's one great way to find these towering beauties.  There is a Big Tree program that aims to locate, document, and preserve the biggest and oldest trees in the state.

The Largest Tree in Illinois

After years of searching and cataloging, they finally found the largest tree in the state. This Eastern Cottonwood tree, which towers over 120 feet tall and spans 28.5 feet in circumference, can be found in Mt Morris, Illinois in Ogle County.

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