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Penn Trails Completes McCormick Ravine Conceptual Trail Design for Lake Forest Open Lands

Aug 30, 2019

Lake Forest, IL. –  Penn Trails recently completed a comprehensive conceptual trail design for McCormick Ravine, a 60-acre wooded site in Lake Forest, Illinois. The design was commissioned by Lake Forest Open Lands (LFOL), an independently funded non-profit devoted to the acquisition and stewardship of natural open space in Lake Forest, Illinois.

Situated in a dense suburb of Chicago, McCormick Ravine represents 60 acres of forest that has undergone extensive efforts to remove invasive species and restore the native ravine landscape. Winding through the site, LFOL envisioned 1.3 miles of pedestrian trail. With a trailhead on the Western end of the site, the trails eventually converge and make their way down a steep ravine slope to the coast of Lake Michigan to the East.

The trail design includes three different trail types, from a wide aggregate surface trail, to a slightly narrower mulch-surfaced trail, and finally a rustic native soil trail to provide a varied user experience. The aggregate surface trail provides a structured and safe universal access experience, facilitating site access for the majority of users while protecting the fragile landscape from erosion. The mulch surfaced trail provides access to a more sensitive and wet portion of the site via a network of boardwalks, and the native surface trail provides the greatest challenge to users.

McCormick Ravine is a beautiful site, and the first of its kind that will be open to the public in Illinois. Due to the sensitive environment and rare plant communities, it was essential that the trail design respond to high amounts of seasonal rainfall and ensure safe and sustainable site access.

Penn Trails staff spent 5 days on site, carefully adjusting the alignment and taking time to define the structure of each trail segment. “Our goal is to produce a detailed roadmap for Lake Forest that eliminates unknowns as we move into the detail design phase,” said Sarah Walter, a Landscape Architect with Penn Trails.

Next steps for the project will involve adjustments to the design to allow it to be phased according to budget considerations, as well as a detail design plan set that will also be completed by Penn Trails in partnership with Hey and Associates, Inc. an engineering firm based in Chicago.

“We at Penn Trails really get excited about projects like this,” said Principal Larry Knutson, “we believe it’s important to bring people into special places like this, and that environmental challenges are really opportunities to make a trail unique.”


About Penn Trails: Founded in 2007, Penn Trails is an industry leader in sustainable trail design. We specialize in trail assessment, design, construction, and maintenance, with extensive experience with universal access trails. With years of combined staff experience in trail planning and design, Penn Trails has a unique approach that focuses on maximizing trail sustainability. From trail rehabilitation to design and master planning,  we provide guidance and direction that addresses your unique environment, focuses on your desired users and supports ongoing sustainable management of your site as an integrated element of your natural resource assets. We have helped to assess, conceptualize, plan and construct hundreds of miles of trails and pathways.

Media Contact:
Larry Knutson