Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan Erosion Damages Northerly Island Bike Trail

A section of the trail will need to be removed, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Erosion along Lake Michigan is a significant threat to beaches, but it has now claimed a portion of a popular biking trail along the water.

That path, laid out in a loop around the southern portion of Chicago’s Northerly Island, has been damaged by higher-than-normal water levels in the lake, and a portion of the trail, one-third of a mile in length, will soon be removed after it was badly damaged by erosion.

“What has happened is the wave action over the top of the stone wall has started to erode the trail system,” US Army Corps of Engineers Commander Col. Aaron Reisinger said. “It’s really ruined the stability of the trail itself.”

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Throughout the spring and summer, water levels on Lake Michigan have been well above their average levels, causing beach erosion in several locations and obscuring other structures like trails and breakwalls along the lake.

The Chicago Park District has blocked the damaged portion of the path, and after its removal the paved surface will not be replaced, the city says.

Rob Werner, a bicyclist who says he’s been using the path for many years, is disappointed that Mother Nature has impacted the trail.

“The majority of it is still open. You just can’t ride a loop anymore,” he said. “It’s still a great place to ride, and I just like getting out there.”

Crews from the Army Corps of Engineers are set to remove the damage in the next few weeks before summer concludes, and hope to have work done to modify the trail done by the fall.

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