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Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve

Posted on Sunday, December 28th, 2008 at 5:09 pm CET

Today we visited Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve in Highland Park IL, just 20 minutes from here. The 250-acre preserve is located on the Lake Michigan shoreline at the site of the former Fort Sheridan army base. The area features rolling terrain, bluffs, ravines and trees set against the shoreline. There are a few scenic trails that wind through the preserve to the sandy shores of Lake Michigan, providing the first official public access to this section of shoreline since the Fort’s military operations began in 1887.

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There is a 1.3-mile asphalt trail as well as a shorter 0.3-mile woodchip trail open to hiking and cross-country skiing. Along the trail we found informative signs about the park’s natural resources as well as its military history.

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At the end of the asphalt trail is an overlook with two fixed binoculars. We saw a lot of birds floating between the ice floes, among them several Common Goldeneyes. We also saw groups of hundreds of geese flying south in the distance.

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Next to the binoculars is displayed an old 44mm automatic antiaircraft gun, a reminder of when Fort Sheridan was an army base. There were signed posted that swimming, wading and watercraft are not permitted on the Forest Preserve section of the beach because of potential unexploded ordnance underwater. I sure hope they’ll be able to clean that up once, this being the only public beach in this area. What a shame!

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We walked along the 3/4-mile of sandy shoreline. Parts of it were covered in thick ice which extended far into the lake. Huge ice floes were floating along the shore.

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It was hard to distinguish the ice from the land, which made it quite treacherous. The ice extended far into the water and we could see holes in which the water was sloshing around. There was big thaw yesterday, so these are only the remnants of all the snow and ice from last week.

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Here follows a short video panning from a small waterfall to the huge icebergs. You can’t even see the lake here, which is behind all the ice.

It wasn’t very crowded and we only encountered a few other people with dogs. The parking lot was almost empty. That’s our new car there in the middle:

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When we got home there was a Cooper’s Hawk in the backyard! All small animals had fled, but the squirrels didn’t seem bothered. Here’s a video of our local Cooper’s Hawk:


For more information see the Lake County Forest Preserves website.

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