On a recent wintry Sunday afternoon, 18 Lake County residents explored publicly owned land in Long Grove that would be the likely route if Route 53 was to be extended into Lake County.
The hike was organized by the Liberty Prairie Conservancy and the Sierra Club.
The 2.5-mile hike through rural and residential areas of Long Grove was attended by residents from across Lake County, including Antioch, Round Lake, Libertyville, Vernon Hills, Grayslake, Wildwood and Long Grove. Several trustees from the village of Long Grove also participated.
The hike started near an extensive great blue heron rookery in Heron Creek Forest Preserve at Route 22 and Old McHenry Road and traveled south on lands owned by the Illinois Department of Transportation. The route crossed a winding stream, passed near homes and along high quality wetlands, and through old growth oak-hickory woodlands, fields, and restored prairies that collectively serve as a wildlife corridor.
The hike ended at Surrey Marsh, an impressive wetland spanning several hundred acres between Long Grove Road and Cuba Road in Long Grove.
The state has been purchasing land in this north-south corridor for four decades in hopes of extending Route 53 expressway approximately eight miles from Lake-Cook Road to Route 120 in Grayslake. The two conservation organizations are planning additional hikes open to the public to explore other areas of the corridor in Grayslake and Hainesville.