Pathway Will Let Lake Forest Residents Approach Lake Michigan ‘From a New Perspective’


By David A. F. Sweet





Many Lake Forest citizens recall the wooden boardwalk at the south end of Forest Park Beach. It opened in 1987 after the beach – once rocky and covered with alewives – was restored. Five years ago, the boardwalk was closed and removed after significant deterioration.


“Even on a dreary winter day, a walk or drive down to Forest Beach Park restores me,” says Kendall Davis.


Today, the city has committed $1.3 million to the new Forest Park Beach Pathway Project, and fundraising is underway by the Friends of Lake Forest Parks and Recreation Foundation to raise an additional $1.5 million from private donations. Thanks to a generous lead donation from Diana and David Moore, as well as significant individual contributions, the foundation is almost at its goal.

Kendall Davis of the Friends Foundation discussed the proposed pathway.


What sets this pathway apart from a typical walk down to the beach?


Many residents remember the old pathway; it was pretty magical, meandering through the trees while catching glimpses of the lake through the foliage. It was a peaceful journey — one which I am excited will be returning, undoubtedly better than before.


Lake Michigan is truly beautiful; there are days when it looks like the ocean and days when it is so still it looks like glass. It’s ever changing, and it is healing. Even on a dreary winter day, a walk or drive down to Forest Beach Park restores me. I know this pathway will provide a renewed way for our community to enjoy the beach and approach the beauty of our lakefront from a new perspective.


What will be different with this pathway compared to the original one?


This new pathway will be wider and more expansive than the old path, allowing it to be safer and ADA compliant.


What will the pathway look like?

The new wooden pathway will be six feet wide and over 900 feet long. It will begin its journey at the top of the south parking lot and gradually make its way down to the playground. There will be two overlook areas to rest and enjoy the view. The bluff will be restored, while invasive species will be removed and replaced with native plantings.


What are you most excited about for the new pathway?


I am most excited about being able to access the beach in a new way, providing a more contemplative connection from the top of the bluff down to the lake.


When my family walks to the beach we take the stairs, leaving our stroller at the top, carrying our kids and belongings, always a bit in a hurry so as not to hold up anyone behind us. The pathway will allow for a more leisurely voyage down, one in which you can bring your stroller or wagons without breaking too much of a sweat.


The new wooden pathway will be over 900 feet long — the size of three football fields.

No matter how we get there or how much gear we inevitably overpack, when we arrive at the beach we say, “We are so lucky to live here!” My family and I love this community, but our love for the lakefront is unmatched; it is breathtaking in any season, rain or shine, and the pathway will provide us with yet another reason to love Forest Park Beach.


This article first appeared in Lake Forest Love. Find out more about the pathway project at .

Unsung Gems Columnist David A. F. Sweet can be reached at