Belmont Prairie features a dry-mesic prairie remnant along a former railroad bed midway between Belmont and Platteville. Though the DNR describes it as being along the Pecatonica River State Trail, that is a tad misleading. First, the state trail is not suitable for road bikes and probably not even hybrids west of Belmont. The trail becomes extremely rutted and uneven. Then the formal trail just ends in an agricultural field shortly after passing under USH 151. Go left here into the field at first and then immediately turn back right into a wooded portion of the old railroad bed. Approximately 1000 feet later, this opens up into the prairie. The closest place to park would be on the Spring Street in the northeast corner of Belmont, which leaves you approximately 1.2 miles from the natural area.
Getting to this site is half the battle. It certainly was as I pedaled my rickety old road bike through the portion of the trail most definitely not maintained with road bikes in mind. Even with the knowledge of the trail seeming to end, it still was an adventure to find the prairie. I poked around the corn field to the south, unsure of how to go left before turning right. I poked around the old field north of the site because that certainly looked like a prairie, and I have seen worse in terms of prairie quality. Eventually, I found the prairie as described and was mostly underwhelmed. I did not observe anything that I had not already seen on this day. Most abundant were common milkweed, yellow coneflower, Queen Anne’s lace, and false sunflower. By this point, I was exhausted and rather hot and did not make it all the way to the western edge where the best prairie is found. There is always next time.
More of my photos (and full-res) from Belmont Prairie can be viewed here.
|Natural Communities / Geology||Dry-Mesic Prairie|
|Parking||Roadside (not near site)|
|Easy to Find||No|
|Best Seen By||Foot|