Jericho Lake Park reopened the week of Oct. 23 after a summer of revitalization and, by all appearances, this iconic haven of outdoor delights is ready to live up to its own hype.
Anticipation has run rampant throughout the community, and understandably so. With its unique amenities that range from fishing and boating to disc golf and grilling, Jericho Lake is one of the Fox Valley Park District’s most popular. And that’s saying a lot, given that FVPD owns 167 other parks.
Suffice to say the crown jewel has been polished, making Jericho Lake a shining example of everything a community park should be.
The park now features two picnic shelters to help meet the desires of outdoor revelers who are attracted to the park’s ambience of woods and waters. The original shelter on the west side of the 21-acre lake has been rebuilt and lies conveniently adjacent to the 18-hole disc golf course.
On the north side of the lake, a new shelter was constructed, and it’s surrounded by all the bells and whistles that include a nature-based playground, a modern restroom building with soon-to-be-completed plumbing and a new parking lot to accommodate an additional 50 vehicles.
Mindful of keeping Jericho Lake and the surrounding watershed clean and free of impurities, the area around the new shelter is an environmental oasis. Rain gardens surround both sides of the parking lot, while a large bio swale runs alongside the shelter from the lake to the lot.
Rain gardens, bio swales and native plants they support play an important role in diverting storm water, safely absorbing and filtering runoff to help prevent flooding and pollution.
In between the two shelters are a pair of boat accesses; a boat ramp for trailer-transported fishing boats (trolling motors only) and an accessible canoe/kayak launch.
Tying the park all together is a new, smoothly paved asphalt trail that runs alongside much of the lake and taps numerous accessible fishing stations for shoreline casting.
The path also links to nearby regional trails, with connections to the Orchard Road trail and another connection leading to Stuart Sports Complex, located just west of Jericho.
“The diversity of Jericho Lake Park is a big part of its appeal,” said Jeff Palmquist, senior director of research, planning and grants. “It has a wide range of attractions that people really enjoy; it’s a park that truly draws people outdoors.”
Fishing is among the most popular pursuits. An abundance of bluegills, largemouth bass, yellow perch and black crappie provide good fishing opportunities for anglers and young children learning to fish. The lake is also an attractive location for paddle sports, with canoeists and kayakers able to get in and out quickly and easily with the new dedicated loading dock.
The disc golf course that runs side-saddle to Blackberry Creek grows in popularity each year. Unlike traditional golf, disc golf is free and much less time-consuming. During reconstruction, a couple holes were relocated along the lake to consolidate the course and make it all that more scenic.
In 2013, the project was awarded a $400,000 Open Space Lands and Development (OSLAD) grant by the state of Illinois. But in 2014, all OSLAD grants were frozen as part of a state-wide financial review.
Once approvals were granted in late 2016, FVPD set sights on the summer of 2017 to carry out this gleam of a vision – and complete it in time for autumnal enjoyment before winter sets in.
Treat yourself to a visit while the weather is still cooperative. Jericho Lake epitomizes the park experience.
Jeff Long (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the public affairs and communications manager for the Fox Valley Park District.