December 26, 2007

Lake Carina Set to Open to Public on Wednesday

By Mick Zawislak

[email protected]

The newest Lake County forest preserve has always been popular with anglers, but soon will be open to the general public.

Lake Carina on the east side of Milwaukee Avenue near Gurnee will offer a wheelchair-accessible fishing pier and other amenities. The facility officially opens to the public Wednesday.

"It's much bigger than it looks," said Lake County Forest Preserve Commissioner Steve Carlson.

"It's the only forest preserve facility in Warren Township if you don't consider the Des Plaines River Trail."

As its holdings go, the former gravel pit is small at 51 acres. The district purchased the property for $3 million in 2000. It's located along the Des Plaines River Trail and Greenway.

Two gravel trails provide sidewalk access from Milwaukee Avenue and from the parking area to the fishing pier. A mile-long temporary mowed grass trail encircles the 23-acre lake and will be available for hiking and nature observation as well as cross- country skiing this winter.

The main feature is Lake Carina, which is stocked by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources with bluegill, northern pike, largemouth bass, perch and white crappie. The site also features a pond, wetlands and a stream.

Birdwatchers can observe Belted kingfishers, Eastern kingbirds, yellow warblers, Northern orioles and herons.

The entrance is on the east side of Milwaukee between Washington Street and Route 120.

Future improvements call for continued restoration of the prairies, wetlands and woodlands, more trails, a second fishing pier, a comfort station, and an expanded parking area for horse trailers.

A trail bridge over the Des Plaines River also is being considered. If approved, Lake Carina would become a trailhead for the 31-mile Des Plaines River trail.

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