What We Do

Openlands Lakeshore Preserve

Region: Illinois
Openlands Lakeshore Preserve


Located just 25 miles north of Chicago, the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve presents a rare opportunity to visit one of the last remaining ravine and bluff ecosystems in the metropolitan region. With a $4 million grant from the Grand Victoria Foundation, environmentally rich areas have been carefully restored, and an innovative interpretive plan enables visitors to experience more than a mile of Lake Michigan shoreline and extraordinary ravine habitat in a completely unique way.

In 2013 the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission designated the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve as an Illinois Nature Preserve.

Notice: Temporary Closures in June

This June, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will close portions of the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve to conduct the required work to detect possible environmental hazards and remove them as necessary. At minimum, portions of the Preserve’s trails, beach, and overlooks will be closed during this process.
Read the posted notice.

Planning Your Visit

  • The Preserve is open from 6:30 a.m. to sunset.

  • Please park in designated parking lots only, and pay attention to street parking signs or risk being towed.

  • Please do touch gently, smell deeply, and look closely, and enjoy your visit! Please don't pick plants or seeds, pocket rocks, leave behind litter, trample beach plants, or climb slopes and trees.

  • Leashed dogs are welcome on all paths; please pick up after them with the waste bags provided at stations along the trails. Waste bags are provided at stations in the ravine. Dogs are not allowed on the beach because of our state endangered and threatened plant communities. (Leashed dogs are welcome on the lakeshore to the north of our beach; this area is part of the Lake County Forest Preserve District’s Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve.)

  • Bicycles are welcome on all paved paths. Please stay to the right, watch your speed, and be careful of pedestrians.

  • State fishing regulations apply.
  • For your own safety, the following are strictly prohibited: swimming, wading, boating, campfires, camping, hunting, and firearms. In an emergency, please call 911.

Please note:

  • Weather can be variable near the lake, so please dress in layers for the weather, wear sturdy walking shoes, and consider bringing sun and/or insect protection as needed.

  • There are no drinking water facilities available on site.

  • The connection linking the Hamill Family Trail (bluff-top trail) from the Sun Central overlook to the trail section north of Schenck Ravine’s trail bridge is currently undeveloped and is planned for completion in the near future. In the meantime, please follow signs directing you through the adjoining neighborhood.
  • Guided walking tours of the Preserve are available for groups. Tours last about two hours, and are led by staff or our trained volunteer docents. They must be reserved in advance.
  • Wedding ceremonies and receptions are not permitted at the Preserve because it is a dedicated Illinois Nature Preserve.

For more information, please contact lakeshorepreserve@openlands.org.

To reach the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve’s main parking lot on Patten Road, begin from Highwood’s city center on Sheridan Road and Waukegan Avenue:

  • Turn east onto Walker Avenue to head towards the lakeshore.
  • Turn left (north) at Fort Sheridan Avenue past the large brick and metal gates.
  • Continue north on Fort Sheridan Avenue, passing through the Navy’s Forest City neighborhood as the road name changes to Patten Road.
  • Continue northwards through the round-a-bout and then look for the Preserve’s parking lot on the left. The parking lot is located just south of the Patten Road bridge, before the stop sign at Whistler Road.

Location: Highland Park, Illinois
Owner & land manager: Openlands
Size of project site: 77 acres
Project Date: Opened September 10, 2011

Use the interactive map below to learn more. 

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