State Park Highlight: Illinois Beach

June 24, 2014505042180_f13d994a33_z

Visiting the Land of Lincoln this summer and want to get a taste of something a little earthier than good ol’ Chicago? Illinois Beach State Park is a magnificent break from the hustle and bustle of the city located in Zion, Illinois.

In the 1600s, French explorers made claim of the Illinois Beach area and it became a prime location for hunting and trapping. By 1888, Illinois residents were already considering the importance of preserving the beautiful acres of lake and forest in fear of the rising industrial revolutions coming from the south. Legislation, however, didn’t catch up to officially designating it a state park until 1920s.

Illinois Beach is just a short walk from the Zion Metra stop, so it’s an easy trek if you’re coming from the city, and even easier if you’re coming in from Wisconsin. This is a State Park that really has it all for nature lovers: hiking, biking, swimming, fishing, and camping. Though, people really come to swim in the vast Lake Michigan. With only five miles of hiking trails total (divided between several short trails) this might not be the pick for those hard-core hikers out there. Be sure to note that there are no dogs allowed on the preserve as well, before you make your journey.

If you are one of the many looking to get some swimming in at Illinois Beach, it is always important to check beach advisories before so. Lake Michigan, like many of the body’s of water, suffers greatly from pollution and even has its own version of a floating garbage patch. Beach advisory’s will you tell you whether or not the lake is safe to swim in based on bacteria levels: High (red flag), elevated (yellow flag), low (green flag).

Illinois Beach State Park may not be perfect, but the rich history and incredible beauty make this a park worth supporting.

Malissa Stark

Photo Credit: Flickr/ Charles Carper

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