GRAYSLAKE – Experience wetlands, prairie, woodlands, an apiary, geofields and more – all on a 1.5-mile walk.
College of Lake County’s Living Lab Trail on the Grayslake campus is open to all who wish to stroll its pathways.
“People don’t know that we have an arboretum or a campus farm,” said David Husemoller, sustainability manager for CLC.
Signs along the trail offer an educational component.
“There’s three layers to the trail – what’s going on here at CLC, in our community and around the world,” Husemoller said.
For example, there is the apiary, which is a collection of beehives. At the college, students studying agriculture tend to the hives and harvest the honey while the bees help pollinate the nearby campus farm. In the community, bee populations are in distress but can be helped by people planting native species. Around the world, bees are so important to farming that international aid groups provide apiaries and beekeeper training to impoverished communities.
Husemoller said you don’t even need to drive onto the campus to access the trail.
“We’ve done these extra trail connections and signs,” he said. “We see more people from the neighborhood with their dogs walking through. People are out here on the weekends. It’s a real resource for the whole community.”
Campus trail users can connect to a larger trail network in Lake County that is featuring an autumn challenge for area explorers. The annual Hike Lake County through the Lake County Forest Preserves is running until Nov. 30.
“All trails are well marked and easy to follow,” said Nan Buckardt, education director for the Lake County Forest Preserves. “Participants discover new preserves while spending time outdoors. It’s the perfect combination to reset your brain and get some exercise.”
Those who accept the Hike Lake County challenge begin by printing an official travel log. They then need to make a plan to conquer seven of 12 designated trails by foot. Once accomplished, Hike Lake County finishers can turn in their logs to receive a free dog tag for any four-legged hiking companion and a free zipper pull or commemorative shield.
“Each year, the set of Hike Lake County trails is different. The variety of trails showcases the array of habitats and ecosystems found in Lake County,” Buckardt said. “Participants might visit a restored wetland, a gorgeous woodland, a stunning prairie or a preserve with all three habitats.”
As the challenge trails change each year, so, too, do CLC’s outdoor spaces.
“We’re going to keep adding to the Living Lab Trail. Solar is coming this winter and we received approval from the board to offer clothing recycling bins,” Husemoller said. “We’re also looking to connect the trail to some internet-based navigation systems and regional trails.”