The Lake County Forest Preserve District (of Illinois) opened their newest preserve this week, Pine Dunes Forest Preserve located in the northernmost section of the county in Antioch and near the Wisconsin border. The main entrance and paved parking lot is on Hunt Club Road just north of Edwards Road. A separate second entrance is located on Edwards Road just west of Hunt Club Road. Follow entry drive to grass parking area.
The preserve encompasses 867 acres of prairie, savanna and oak-hickory woodlands, as well as scenic streams, marshes, sedge meadows, vernal ponds and other wetland communities. The map below shows the 2.2 mile loop trail (yellow) and three pedestrian/bike entrances (white). The LCFPD has constructed four boardwalks to protect the fragile areas as well as three scenic overlooks for visitors to enjoy the views. The trails are open to hikers, bikers, cross country skiers, and equestrians.
Talk about having a heart for the environment. The property was formerly the McClure family homestead and featured well-maintained woodlands, wetlands, and prairie. The property is special because of its diverse topography and the fact that the former owners, Ilse and Michal McClure, consciously improved the natural features while they owned the property from 1977 to 2010, and it was the family's stated desire to preserve the property as a forest preserve that could be enjoyed for years to come by all people.
The land is described by the forest preserve district's natural resource experts as “some of the finest rolling topography found in Lake County.” Approximately 70 percent of the land is upland habitat, while the remaining 30 percent is wetland communities.
The Illinois Wildlife Action Plan, Chicago Wilderness, and the Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation have all identified the preserve's habitats as critical nesting and foraging areas for a variety of birds and other wildlife species.
Eventually, the preserve will be connected to the nearby Des Plaines River Trail and neighboring Van Patten Woods Forest Preserve, and also to the Millennium Trail.