Thursday, December 19, 2013

Hastings Lake Forest Preserve

The recently re-opened Hastings Lake Forest Preserve is in the Lake Villa/Lindenhurst area of Lake County.  The parking area is on Gelden Road south of Grass Lake Road, north of Route 132, and east of Deep Lake Road, and north of Illinois Route 45.  Though only 270 acre4s, it offers a paved 2 mile loop around Hastings Lake, another 1 mile loop, three picnic shelters, a large playground, three scenic overlooks, several boardwalks,lake access for cartop boats, and two wheelchair accessible fishing piers. Here's the map (click to enlarge)...

The preserve was named for the Hastings Lake YMCA camp that had occupied the site from 1923 to 2002.  The YMCA of Metro Chicago continues to operate out of a small section of the old property and offers aquatics, family programs, fitness classes, and apparently outdoor ropes activities on this interesting looking apparatus that abuts the loop trail...

The four miles of paved and gravel trails wind through open fields, woodlands of stately trees, and wetlands. Trails are open to bicycling, hiking, and cross-country skiing; horses and snowmobiles are not permitted. Two trail spurs provide access to the preserve from the Seven Hills and Mallard Ridge subdivisions, and a trail connection to Grass Lake Road on the east side of the lake is also available.

The lake is visible in the background of the following photo, though it is ice and snow covered and blends into the scenery. Many scenic vistas of the lake are found as you hike the loop trail.  Bluegill, largemouth bass, carp, and other species can be found in the lake.  Swimming, ice skating and ice fishing are not permitted

As I hiked over one of the boardwalks, this coyote scampered out and took off through the reeds.  You can see his back end in the center of the photo below (click to enlarge.)

The trail is mostly out in the open, so a really windy day wouldn't be the best time to hike here, but the views are lovely and the traffic noise is minimal, so as John Muir loved to say, "Get out of the house!"

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