Forest preserve set to buy final piece of Des Plaines River Trail

The final missing piece in the Des Plaines River Trail, which stretches more than 30 miles from the Wisconsin border toward Cook County, is in line to be filled after two Lake County Forest Preserve committees approved the purchase of a small parcel of land in Lincolnshire on Thursday, July 10.

A statement released by forest preserve officials said that the nearly $250,000 purchase of the 4.4-acre gap “will have a mighty impact” on the trail, creating a continuous 31.4-mile path rather than requiring users to detour out to Milwaukee Avenue.

“Completing the Des Plaines River Trail has been one of the district’s fundamental goals since the first board,” Lake County Forest Preserve President Ann Maine said. “It was the vision of Forest Preserve founder Ethel Untermyer, so this brings her idea full-circle.”

According to information released by the district, the mostly riverside trail has been under development for 51 years, starting at Russell Road on the north and ending at Lake Cook Road, where it connects to the Cook County Forest Preserve trail system toward Chicago.

The Lincolnshire gap between Riverside Road on the north and Parkway Drive on the south extends just three-tenths of a mile, but it has required bike riders and hikers to leave the trail and head west to Milwaukee Avenue at Aptakisic Road for southbound users and Parkway Drive for those heading north.

After traveling along the curb, users can then head east back to the trail, which runs along the west side of the Ryerson Conservation Area at that point.

Thursday’s agreement to pay $50,000 per acre for the missing land came from the forest preserve’s Land Preservation and Acquisition and Finance and Administrative committees. The transaction will now go before the full Forest Preserve Board of Commissioners for final approval on July 15, after which officials say a closing is expected within 60 to 90 days.

“Once the land ownership is transferred, trail engineering and permitting will start,” the district statement added. “Construction is expected to begin in spring 2015 and be complete in summer 2015. Until trail construction is complete, the public is asked to refrain from entering the property, since it will not be safe for access until all improvements have been made.”

The Des Plaines trail runs through 12 forest preserves and provides direct links to regional paths that include the Millennium Trail and the North Shore Bike Path, which in turn links to the McClory Trail.

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