Lake Calumet Trail Study

Learn about the vision for the Lake Calumet Trail at our virtual open house – view the recording!

Imagining a new multi-use trail over Lake Calumet

The Active Transportation Alliance and Epstein, on behalf of the Illinois International Port District, studied the feasibility of a multi-use trail over Lake Calumet to better connect local neighborhoods by foot and bike to Big Marsh Park, the Pullman National Monument, and many other destinations on the south side of Chicago.  

The Lake Calumet Trail Feasibility Study kicked-off in the summer of 2020 and received funding through Invest in Cook and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Coastal Management Program. A key objective of the study was to identify a feasible, low-stress trail alignment for the construction of a trail over or around Lake Calumet. 


Study area overview

Lake Calumet is situated at the very southeast end of Chicago. For the purposes of this study, the boundaries of the study area are 103rd Street to the north, Big Marsh Park and Stony Island Avenue to the east, Lake Calumet to the south and the Bishop Ford Expressway (I-94) to the west. 


Community feedback

In order to gather direct input about the Lake Calumet Trail Feasibility, Active Trans conducted a community survey and stakeholder interviews with civic organizations, community groups, local and regional agencies, and elected officials. We spoke to 14 stakeholder groups and heard from nearly 300 community members who took the survey.

The survey and interviews focused on understanding desirable trail amenities, general community benefits, concerns about the trail, and barriers that might prevent people from accessing or using the trail.

In general, we heard a great deal of excitement about the project, particularly over the recreational benefits and increased connections to nature, Big Marsh Park, and nearby communities the trail would provide.


Project documents


Preferred trail alignments

Trail over Lake Calumet renderings


Virtual Open House

Bridging the Gap: Vision for a Lake Calumet Trail Virtual Open House

  • Watch the Sept. 22, 2021 recording of our open house to learn about the vision to build a multi-use trail over Lake Calumet and how we can work together to keep the momentum going. The trail would better connect local neighborhoods by foot and bike to Big Marsh Park, the Pullman National Monument, and many other destinations on the south side of Chicago.
  • Speakers:
    • Jim Merrell, Managing Advocacy Director, Active Transportation Alliance
    • Tim Gustafson, Associate Vice President and Senior Planner, Epstein
    • Alderwoman Susan Garza
    • U.S. Congresswoman Robin Kelly
    • Elizabeth Scott, Principal Policy Analyst, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP)
    • Paul Fitzgerald, Executive Director, Friends of Big Marsh
    • Sue Bennett, Assistance Superintendent, Pullman National Monument


Support from Elected Officials


Background: Media & Blogs

Park Forest News (2022): U.S. Representative Robin Kelly Earmarks $844,800 for the Illinois International Port District’s Lake Calument Trail

Block Club Chicago: A Proposed Bridge Over Lake Calumet Would Make It Easier To Bike From Big Marsh Park To Pullman (2021)

Streetsblog Chicago: Lake Calumet Trail would be a game-changer for improving SE Side connectivity, bike equity (2021)

Proposed trail to Big Marsh Park picks up steam (2021)

A new trail to connect to Lake Calumet area (2021)

Enhancing Lake Calumet area connections (2019)

Lake Calumet Champion Tom Shepard (2018)

Pushing for better walking and biking near Lake Calumet (2017)



Alex Perez, Active Transportation Alliance,

Maggie Czerwinski, Active Transportation Alliance,

Jim Merrell, Active Transportation Alliance,

Tim Gustafson, Epstein (Project Consultant),


Thank you!

A big thank you to the following civic organizations, community groups, agencies, elected officials, and community members who helped shape this study and who are keeping it moving forward: 

  • Calumet Collaborative 
  • Chicago Park District 
  • Chicago Department of Planning and Development
  • Chicago Department of Transportation 
  • Cook County Department of Highways and Transportation 
  • Friends of Big Marsh 
  • Friends of the Major Taylor Trail 
  • Illinois Department of Transportation 
  • Illinois Department of Natural Resources 
  • National Parks Conservation Association 
  • Openlands 
  • Pullman Civic Organization
  • Pullman National Monument 
  • South Side Trail Blazers 
  • 10th Ward Office and Alderman Garza 
  • State Representative Smith