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
- Distance: 4.2
Location: 42.2552366, -88.1067359
Follow the trail south from this restroom-equipped trailhead. You'll see Heron Lake, named for the great blue herons often seen along its shore, almost immediately. This algae-covered pond is fringed by dense woods.
Location: 42.2533148, -88.1066716
Turn left at the first junction and stay left as you pass two more trail junctions. You'll have more views of Heron Pond's wooded shore as the trail takes a dip and then rises steeply under a thick canopy of oak.
Location: 42.2530766, -88.1025624
Hang a right @ T-junction and then take an immediate left on the next trail. Stay straight (heading south) on the main trail, bypassing several spurs ahead.
Location: 42.2487643, -88.1023586
Continue straight ahead at the junction, passing a cattail marsh on the right. Sedge grasses and cattails grow thick in another marsh on the left.
Location: 42.2438482, -88.1058347
Turn left @ 3-way junction. Descend the hill, passing a series of intermittent streambeds.
Location: 42.2435066, -88.1096864
Continue straight. Soon you'll arrive on the shore of a large marsh fringed with oak and cottonwood trees. Look for kingfishers, waterfowl, and hawks perched in trees at edge of the marsh.
Location: 42.2441738, -88.1096864
Stay left to follow the trail to the other side of the marsh before heading north.
Location: 42.2460799, -88.1077874
Bear right at junction near mile 1.8 to skirt Beaver Lake's western shore up ahead.
Location: 42.2458655, -88.1060493
Turn left onto Beaver Lake's levee. Take a break on the grassy bank and enjoy the lovely view. The shores are densely wooded and the shallow water is sprinkled with stumps and fallen trees.
Location: 42.2486293, -88.1066394
Continue north @ 3-way junction near Acorn Lake, a small, algae-covered pond that's popular with fishermen. Ahead, close the loop at Waypoint 2, and continue straight to backtrack the final 300 yards to the trailhead.
Location: 42.2536484, -88.1067467
Named for the birds frequenting it's shallows, Heron Lake also teems with other shorebirds. ©Ted Villaire
Oak Shaded Trail
Location: 42.2511707, -88.1018972
The wide, open trail heading south from Heron Lake. ©Ted Villaire
Location: 42.2443406, -88.1100726
Lakewood Preserve's many wetlands attract breeding birds and are home to 17 endangered species. ©Ted Villaire
Location: 42.246755, -88.1056094
The levee on Beaver Lake's west side provides open views of it's wooded eastern shoreline. ©Ted Villaire