Forest preserve opens $14.5 million Horizon Farms site to the public

  • Horizon Farms, the former equestrian estate bought by the Forest Preserves of Cook County last year for $14.5 million, is now open to the public. Some parts, like the Algonquin Road entrance pictured here, remain off-limits, however, while the district works to ensure those areas are safe for visitors.

      Horizon Farms, the former equestrian estate bought by the Forest Preserves of Cook County last year for $14.5 million, is now open to the public. Some parts, like the Algonquin Road entrance pictured here, remain off-limits, however, while the district works to ensure those areas are safe for visitors. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer, 2003

 
 
Posted6/25/2015 5:30 AM

Horizon Farms, the nearly 400-acre former equestrian estate in Barrington Hills, was opened to the public by the Forest Preserves of Cook County this month, although some of the property's features remain off-limits.

Dave Kircher, a chief landscape architect for the forest preserve, said about 4 miles of multi-use trails are open to hikers, bicyclists and horse riders, while plans continue for the rest of property's unique features.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The property hosts several houses, including a main house, a guesthouse, a bunk house, a staff apartment building and duplex. There are several facilities for horses as well, including about 20 horse paddocks, several barns, a large show barn and a racetrack.

"We haven't made a lot of improvements yet," Kircher said. "There are several structures that aren't necessarily secure for the public, so we're trying to keep that area off-limits."

One such area is Horizon Farms' Algonquin Road entrance, which features two horse statues and the property's iconic sign. Kircher said it is still blocked off because it is so close to some of the property's off-limits buildings.

The public instead can enter at the Old Sutton Road entrance and park in the small lot there.

Kircher said in addition to sticking to the gravel paths, the public can hike off-trail to get a closer look at some of Horizon Farm's sights, such as Goose Lake.

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"It's a beautiful piece of property," Kircher said. "It is really unique."

Forest preserve spokeswoman Lambrini Lukidis said the district was glad to add Horizon Farms to its holdings.

"This is definitely a piece that adds a lot of value to our holdings and the area," Lukidis said.

The forest preserve is in the process of making new signs and maps for the property.

Horizon Farms was in foreclosure when acquired by the forest preserve in 2013 for $14.5 million. A protracted legal battle between the land's last private owners, Meryl Squires Cannon and Richard Kirk Cannon, ended last month when a state appellate court upheld a lower court's 2014 decision in the forest preserve's favor. The Cannons' suit claimed the forest preserve district didn't have legal standing to complete the sale, because the Cannons were still trying to work out a deal to get out of the 2009 foreclosure and reclaim the land.

Horizon Farms is open from sunrise to sunset every day.

Farms: Open from sunrise to sunset every day

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