MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Hunting for morels in Illinois

I grew up mushroom hunting in northern Michigan. Since moving to Illinois, I have always wanted to go but never know just when or where to look for morel mushrooms near Bloomington, Ill. Can you tell me? - Jan, Bloomington, Ill.

Start looking this weekend, Jan! According to the Illinois message board of Morels.com, the first small morels are being found right now in central Illinois. Morel hunters love to brag, so you'll find lots of posts . . . but they won't tell you exactly where to look.

Just get out there and start looking in county or state parks and forests, or get permission to look on someone's farm. Map your finds and mark spots that might have morels next year. Even if you don't find many this year, you'll be in good shape to look next year.

If you've had rain and then you get warm temperatures, the morels will pop, just like in Michigan. Scout out some likely locations right now. You'll be looking for newly dead elms on south-facing hillsides, but morels can grow anywhere. Once, my husband spotted one along a trail in boreal forest on Minnesota's North Shore, not far from the Canadian border, on Memorial Day.

But for you, the next two weeks will be peak. Good luck!

For hunting tips, see Out of the forest and into the frying pan.

Last updated on April 22, 2009