Stemler Cave Woods Nature Preserve is an old growth forest remnant set in the sinkhole plain between Millstadt and Columbia, Illinois. There are numerous sinkholes in Stemler Cave Woods that create variations in topography and microclimates. Limestone exposures can be seen at the bottom of several sinkholes. The entire site is within the heart of the Stemler Cave recharge area, though the entrance to Stemler Cave is not located in the preserve. (The cave is NOT open to the public.) Original survey notes from the early 1800’s describe the plant community as a post oak woodland with a grassy understory. While there are still many large post oaks, the composition of the forest today includes many white, black and red oaks. Other more mesic plant species occupy the lower, moister portions of the sinkholes. An invasion of bush honeysuckle currently threatens the integrity of the preserve and visitors will likely see evidence of control efforts.
The Homer F. Stemler Memorial Walking Trail offers over 2 miles of hiking with 12 interpretive points. Hiking level is easy to moderate. Visitors are required to stay on the trail. Pets are not permitted in the preserve. Access to the preserve and parking are available at 2200 Stemler Road, Columbia, IL, 62236.