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Des Plaines River Trail earns national recognition

The scenic Des Plaines River Trail in Lake County has been designated as a National Recreation Trail.
The scenic Des Plaines River Trail in Lake County has been designated as a National Recreation Trail.

LIBERTYVILLE – The scenic Des Plaines River Trail and Greenway in Lake County has been designated as a National Recreation Trail.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt recently added 30 new recreational trails in 25 states to the National Trails System. 

The National Recreation Trails program is jointly administered by the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service in conjunction with a number of federal and nonprofit partners. It recognizes exemplary existing trails that connect people to federal, state and local resources and improve their quality of life. 

The National Trails System includes 1,300 designated national scenic trails, national historic trails and national recreational trails spanning 83,000 miles. It promotes the enjoyment and appreciation of trails while encouraging greater public access to America’s public lands for outdoor recreation. 

“Your trail is a great addition to the network of trails that make up the National Recreation Trails, and we commend your efforts to provide high-quality recreation opportunities for your community,” Peter Bonsall, National Trails Program specialist, said about the Des Plaines River Trail. 

“We are honored to receive this prestigious national designation,” said Angelo Kyle, president of the Lake County Forest Preserves. “The DPRT is a recreational treasure in Lake County and one of the crown jewels of the forest preserve system. Acquiring the land and building a continuous 31.4-mile trail along the Des Plaines River’s edge took 57 years and 133 separate land purchases to achieve. Being added to the National Trails System is a significant achievement of this work.” 

The crushed stone DPRT winds through 12 forest preserves, eight municipalities and connects to several neighboring trails, residential areas, parks, schools and business districts. It is open for hiking, biking, cross country skiing, horseback riding and snowmobiling (between Russell Road and Wadsworth Road only). The trail runs nearly the entire length of Lake County from Russell Road in Wadsworth south to Lake Cook Road, where it connects to the Cook County Forest Preserve trail system.

The DPRT is an ideal destination for expanded outdoor adventures and relaxation in nature.

“The trail allows us to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life to a place where the main sounds we hear are the chirping of birds and the crunching of leaves beneath our feet,” Kyle said. “Studies show spending time outdoors in nature results in reduced stress, clearer thought patterns, more optimism and an improved overall sense of well-being.”

“The trail and greenway protects land along more than 75% of the river in Lake County, providing wildlife habitat, natural flood protection and outdoor recreation opportunities,” said Mike Tully, chief operations officer at the Lake County Forest Preserves. 

The trail isn’t the only way to explore this river valley. The river itself offers a different set of views and experiences, best explored by canoe.

“There are six launch sites along the river where you can drop in a canoe or kayak,” Tully said.

All launch areas provide river access, shoreline fishing and parking. 

“We are proud to receive this designation,” said Alex Ty Kovach, executive director of the Lake County Forest Preserves. “Each trail that receives this honor must support a diversity of users, reflect its region and be among America’s best trails.”

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