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Calumet Dunes Trail

This short paved trail features the Calumet Dunes ridge, which was the shoreline of Lake Michigan over 12,000 years ago. The lake has slowly receded over time, forming three major parallel dune ridges: Glenwood (640′ above sea level), Calumet (620′ above sea level) and Tolleston (605′ above sea level). The current lake level is approximately 580′ above sea level. U.S. Highway 12 follows the high ground of the Tolleston Dunes ridge in this area, just north of the Calumet Dunes Trail.

Bailly Homestead / Chellberg Farm

The Little Calumet River, Mnoké Prairie, Bailly Homestead, Chellberg Farm and Bailly Cemetery trail system reveals the rich natural diversity that has drawn people to this area for over 10,000 years. Hike through a forest dominated by maple, beech, basswood and oak trees.

Follow a stretch of the Little Calumet River, once a critical transportation route for early regional travelers and explore the recently restored Mnoké Prairie for a glimmer of the vast stretches of pre-settlement grasslands. Explore the historic Bailly Homestead and Chellberg Farm. There are picnic shelters reservable on www.recreation.gov.

Mount Baldy

No lifeguards. Swim at your own risk; rip currents and large waves can make swimming hazardous.

The Beach Trail hike is a short hike with a steep climb down loose sand to the beach. Be sure to plan accordingly as the only way out is up the steep trail. Do not bring a large cooler or other large beach items as the climb up from the beach is difficult. The sweeping views of Lake Michigan are fantastic.

Lake View Beach

No lifeguards. Swim at your own risk; rip currents and large waves can make swimming hazardous. Parking lot fills up very quickly on summer weekends and holidays.

West Beach

Lifeguards are present from the Friday of Memorial Day through the Monday of Labor Day. Lifeguards are not present at other times of the year. Swim at your own risk. Rip currents and large waves can make swimming hazardous. Parking lot holds 600 cars and the best location for summer and holiday weekends. The bath house, picnic tables, restrooms, some picnic shelters, and walkway to the beach are wheelchair accessible. The beach itself is not wheelchair accessible.

There is a $6.00 per car parking fee from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. There are picnic shelters; some are reservable on www.recreation.gov.

Indian Ridge Marsh

Once used for the disposal of slag, a waste product of the steel making process, Indian Ridge Marsh is taking on a new life. This natural area – located in the Southeast Side’s South Deering neighborhood – covers 154 acres between Lake Calumet to the west and the Calumet River to the south. Large portions of the marsh were once filled with dredge material from disposal activities of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2015. Since then, the site is being restored to its historic wetland habitat thanks to the Chicago Park District and its partners. On the north end of the marsh, mulched trails cut through wet prairie, an important habitat once common throughout the Calumet region. Native flowers and grasses offer food and habitat to a myriad of birds and insects. Visitors can walk the trails and connect with nature or relax and take in picturesque marsh and wildlife views. In the center of IRM is a nature play space and picnic tables – it’s a great place to relax, play and enjoy the sights and sounds of the marsh and savanna.

Marian R. Byrnes Park

Named for environmental activist Marian R. Byrnes, this 135-acre park is one of Chicago’s largest natural areas. Located in the Southeast Side’s Jeffery Manor neighborhood (where it’s known as “the prairie”), the site encompasses a variety of ecosystems, making it a great place to observe species like frogs, snakes, birds, and deer. After undergoing immense ecological restoration, the park now provides community members with a safe space to relax and connect with nature. Its new asphalt multipurpose trail runs the length of the park, giving visitors access to multiple habitats and unique views.

Steelworkers Park -Chicago Park District

Located in the South Chicago neighborhood, Steelworkers Park weaves its rich industrial history into present day recreation. Once the site of a thriving steel mill along Lake Michigan’s shoreline, the park is now one of the city’s unique natural areas, perfect for birding, stargazing, and other outdoor fun.

Feeling adventurous? Try your hand at rock climbing up a portion of the repurposed historic ore wall left behind by the steel industry. Or keep your feet on the ground with a relaxing walk or bike ride along meandering nature paths lined with native grasses and plants.

Burnham Wildlife Corridor – Chicago Park District

The Burnham Wildlife Corridor (BWC) is a 100-acre ribbon of urban wilderness running through Burnham Park. The corridor is composed of 3 main natural areas including the Burnham Centennial Prairie, Burnham Nature Sanctuary, and McCormick Bird Sanctuary. The corridor spans both sides of Lake Shore Drive, and is the largest stretch of natural area along Chicago’s lakefront. Its native prairie, savanna, and woodland ecosystems provide healthy, diverse habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife, and offer opportunities for visitors to meaningfully connect to this revitalized public green space in ways that inspire nature exploration, enjoyment, and stewardship.

The Burnham Wildlife Corridor is home to five unique “gathering spaces,” which have been designed and created — and will be activated — by teams of local artists and community-based organizations from the Chinatown, Bronzeville, and Pilsen neighborhoods. The BWC Gathering Spaces are artistic installations and seating areas, reflective of nature and culture, that serve as assembly grounds and resting points for people exploring this part of the lakefront. They are located on both the east and west sides of Lake Shore Drive.

Rainbow Beach Park – Chicago Park District

Located in the South Chicago neighborhood, Rainbow Beach and Park totals 142.24 acres and features a gymnasium, fitness center and multipurpose rooms. A green feature of the park includes a community garden. Outside, the park offers a beach and comfort station, basketball/ tennis/ handball courts, baseball diamonds, and two playgrounds.Many of these spaces are available for rental including our fields, gymnasium and multipurpose clubrooms.