About the Plan

The purpose of the Northern Lakeshore Trail Connectivity Plan is to improve walking and bicycling connections between and among the five northern lakeshore communities of Zion, Winthrop Harbor, Beach Park, Waukegan, and North Chicago. Funded in part by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Coastal Management Program, a key objective of this plan is to identify potential bicycle and pedestrian routes between partner communities and Illinois Beach State Park, as well as other recreational open spaces along the lakefront and within the study area. The study area is bounded roughly by the municipal limits of the partner communities, stretching approximately from the Wisconsin State line to the City of North Chicago’s southern municipal limit, and from the Lake Michigan shoreline west to the Robert McClory Bike Path.

The communities of Beach Park, North Chicago, Waukegan, Winthrop Harbor, and Zion have a strong base of walking and biking amenities; active Metra ridership; robust sidewalk networks; and pedestrian-friendly, downtown commercial and business districts. These municipalities are also well on their way to leading the Chicagoland area in bicycle and pedestrian-welcoming destinations for residents and visitors.

With the support of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), these municipalities have engaged in a planning process that will involve residents, businesses, trail users, and other stakeholders in working towards safer, greener, healthier, connected, and vibrant communities. Ultimately, the process will result in a connectivity plan that capitalizes on the resources of the area and provides an experience that is unique to the northern lakeshore.





The Northern Lakeshore Trail Connectivity Plan earned an Honorable Mention for the 2019 Innovation Award by the Lake County Municipal League! While the honor was awarded to Beach Park for initiating the plan, all five communities were recognized as a part of the reward and received congratulatory remarks from Senator Tammy Duckworth and Congressman Bradley Scott Schneider.

The Northern Lakeshore Connectivity Plan has been covered by a number of media sources, including:


Thank you to all who attended the Virtual Open House on Tuesday, July 7 at 6 pm to learn more about the plan and share your input. The virtual session included a series of brief presentations from different members of the project team, each followed by live audience polling and moderated Q&A. Click here to view the presentation from the Open House, or watch a recording of the event via the link below.


Thank you for your input of the draft Northern Lakeshore Connectivity Plan! The communities of Waukegan, Zion, North Chicago, Winthrop Harbor, and Beach Park collaborated to better connect the northern lakeshore. The plan includes programs to get people out on their bike, policies to make cycling safer, and wayfinding to guide residents to all that the region has to offer. Most importantly, it outlines a network of infrastructure investments to better connect communities to the lakefront and to each other. Please stay tuned for the final Northern Lakeshore Connectivity Plan!



A draft of the Northern Lakeshore Connectivity Plan is available for review and download below, along with additional plan documents and presentations.

The primary goal of this plan will be the development of a connected bicycle and pedestrian network and associated infrastructure improvements that achieve these connections.

Meet the Team


Epstein is a multidisciplinary planning, architecture, and engineering firm based in Chicago with a 97-year history in delivering infrastructure improvements in the public and private sector, and long-standing relationships with our clients. These include the Illinois Department of Transportation, County departments and divisions of transportations, regional transit agencies, and local municipalities. The work we do covers the full timeline of a project from a long-range vision or plan through to stakeholder engagement, design, and construction. Learn more >

Active Transportation Alliance

Active Transportation Alliance is Chicagoland’s voice for better walking, bicycling, and transit. Comprised of advocacy, engagement, and transportation planning professionals, the Active Transportation Alliance provides active transportation solutions in the form of planning, Complete Streets policy development, stakeholder engagement, and forming ongoing partnerships to promote and support the development of complete streets in the Chicagoland region. Learn more >

The Lakota Group

The Lakota Group has 25 years of experience in urban design, planning, landscape architecture, and historic preservation and will be leading community engagement and outreach for the NWMC Multimodal Plan. Learn more >

This project was prepared by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning using federal funds from under award number NA17NOS4190030 from NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management, U.S. Department of Commerce. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of NOAA’s Office of Coastal Management or the U.S. Department of Commerce.

CMAP is the regional planning organization for the northeastern Illinois counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will. The NWMC Multimodal Transportation Plan is funded through CMAP’s Local Technical Assistance program.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) operates the state parks and state recreation areas, enforces the fishing and game laws of Illinois, regulates Illinois coal mines, operates the Illinois State Museum system, and oversees scientific research into the soil, water, and mineral resources of the state.

The IDNR Coastal Management Program is dedicated to protecting and managing the natural and cultural resources along our magnificent 63 mile stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is an agency that enriches life through science.