At 2,578 acres, Lakewood Forest Preserve is the largest forest preserve in Lake County and boasts gently rolling oak forest dotted with patches of wetland. The park’s marshes are also breeding grounds for several endangered species. Beginning at the parking area just south of Ivanhoe Road near the park operations center, this loop begins with a 300-yard lollipop and turns east dipping toward Heron Lake’s shore. Turn right past the lake and walk south through stands of quaking aspen and alongside a prairie, bypassing spurs on both sides of the main trail.
At mile 1.1, bear left to add an extra half mile that dips into several creek beds and loops alongside another cattail-choked wetland—open water is just north of the trail, but can be hard to find through the brush. Rejoin the main trail just south of Beaver Lake and stop for a break on its west-side levee before walking north about 0.7 mile to the trailhead. The trail is wide, open and easy to follow, but you’ll likely to encounter equestrian traffic on this popular trail; be sure to give horses the right of way.
-Mapped by Ted Villaire