What We Do

Openlands Lakeshore Preserve

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.

Notices and Alerts

January 2016: Winter Trail Closures

Please note that the Hamill Family Upland Trail and our ravine and bluff staircases are closedin the winter when snow is present on the trail or stair surface. The Bartlett Ravine Trail and Beach Trail will remain open.

December 2015: Major Restoration Project Begins in January 2016

Over the next five years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will launch an important ecological restoration project at the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve. Located at the southern end of the Preserve, Schenck Ravine will be restored to support a diverse composition of native trees, grasses, and wildflowers as well as providing habitat and food for resident wildlife and birds. Questions or comments regarding the project should be directed to the Corps by phone at 312-846-5330 or by email at chicagodistrict.pao@usace.army.mil. If you need further assistance, please contact Openlands at info@openlands.org. Learn more about the project.

July 2015: Trail Connection Coming Soon

The bluff-top Hamill Family Trail currently ends where Openlands property ends, at either side of the landfill area owned by the US Navy and operated by the US Army. In the past, trail users have crossed the landfill by using the grass paths maintained by the Army. The Army has made the decision to fence in the landfill as of July 2015, and as a result, this area will be inaccessible to trail users. Openlands is working with the Navy to provide a connection between the north and south portions of the Hamill Family Trail by using the sidewalks in the military housing area. We hope to have this trail connection in place later this year.

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.
  • 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. 

Share This Page