A scenic and safe multiuse trail is under construction along Lake-Cook Road to improve access for visitors who come to the Chicago Botanic Garden by train, bicycle, stroller, foot and wheelchair.
The trail will link two north-south routes, the Green Bay and North Branch trails, and also provide a safe pathway for visitors arriving at the Braeside Metra station in Highland Park.
"We are working to make the garden more welcoming and accessible to visitors using alternative means of transportation," said Kris Jarantoski, executive vice president and director of the garden.
Roughly 80,000 to 90,000 visitors enter the garden by bike or foot each year. The North Branch Trail addition, a partnership with the Forest Preserves of Cook County and the Illinois Department of Transportation, will offer cyclists a safer alternative to Lake-Cook Road and will enable pedestrians to experience one of the garden's natural areas, McDonald Woods.
Interpretive signs will point out the glacial moraines, wetlands, woodlands and sedge communities along the way. A wooden boardwalk will provide passage over wetlands without impeding the flow of water through the area.
The $2 million project, funded largely with $1.65 million from the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program, is scheduled for completion by mid- to late August. Once finished, it will connect two important forest preserve properties, Turnbull Woods and the Chicago Botanic Garden, and provide the missing link in a trail system that runs some 30 miles from Lake Bluff into the city of Chicago.
"We hope the new path will increase free usage of the garden by making it safer and more enjoyable for all visitors to take public transportation, bike and walk here," said Harriet Resnick, vice president for visitor experience and business development.
Open every day of the year, the garden offers free admission, but charges nonmembers who enter by car a $25 parking fee.
"By encouraging alternative and intermodal transportation, the North Branch Trail addition will also help the garden achieve another important goal: promoting sustainability," Resnick said.