Sunday, September 6, 2015

Paddling Independence Grove

Independence Grove is the jewel of the Lake County Forest Preserve District. The property was purchased by the forest preserve district in 1978 while still a 40 foot deep, active gravel quarry. Revenues from its operations were put into a fund which later helped pay to transform it into this facility, a 115 acre lake surrounded by 70 acres of native prairie planted with 100,000 wildflowers and thousands of trees and bushes. It is located on Buckley Road (Route 137) just east of Milwaukee Avenue (Route 21).

As is evident from the photos, several bays are available for paddling. The map at the end of this post also demonstrates the amount of water available for recreational purposes.

Free weekly outdoor concerts are performed in the venue in the photo below. People bring chairs and blankets and sit in the grass, on the hillsides, or on the pavement.

The Des Plaines River Bike Trail passes Independence Grove, providing another means of entrance. If you drive in, Lake County residents are free and others pay a nominal charge. The water is seldom crowded and fishermen in boats usually outnumber recreational boaters.

Below, across the bay, is the canoe, kayak, paddleboat, hydro-bike, and rowboat rental area (available in season). You are not allowed to put your own watercraft into the lake, but there is a free boat launch onto the Des Plaines River. This would be a wonderful place to learn canoeing or kayaking. This photo is from the outdoor seating for the concession area, and just out of view to the right is the swimming beach.


This map shows the main body of water and the side bays, which are accessible under bridges. Two trails circumnavigate the lake, the Overlook Trail (paved 3.7 miles) up high on the quarry lip around the perimeter and the Lakeshore Trail (crushed limestone 3.2 miles) at the water's edge. The beach, Visitor's Center, concession stand, and boat rentals are all in the small bay in the bottom right section, reached by turning right after passing the entrance station. (Click to enlarge.)

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