Park 564 “Big Marsh” is a 280.13 acre property on the southeast side of Chicago in the area commonly known as the Calumet Area Reserve. Once an active industrial property, the site was acquired by the Park District in 2011 and opened as a new public park in 2016. The vision of Big Marsh is to provide a new type of recreation in Chicago that marries habitat restoration with public use. Roughly 45 acres are developed for eco-recreation opportunities including hiking, adventure courses, and off-road biking. The eco-recreation elements are located primarily on existing slag fields where plants have a hard time growing and good habitat creation is unlikely. Other acreage is reserved for more passive recreation including bird-watching and nature walking. All acreage is being developed to protect or further enhance the overall natural habitat of the park property including sensitivity to flora, fauna, and wetlands.
Big Marsh Park is now home to two new, state-of-the-art pump tracks, built by renowned builder Velosolutions. These two tracks together provide 33,000 s.f. of excitement for beginners and experts alike.
"A pump track is designed for all things on wheels. From mountain bikes to bmx’s and skateboards, a pump track is a playground for all wheels. By combining rolling jumps with turns they are accessible for all. Teaching the basic skills of carrying momentum, balance and speed by using your arms and legs to pump your bike/board/scooter around the track." -Velosolutions
These pump tracks will be open alongside Big Marsh Park's hours from dawn to dusk. They are the largest asphalt pump tracks in Illinois and the only free, public pump tracks in the Chicago area. The pump tracks were donated by Friends of Big Marsh, following private donations and a campaign to continue developing the bike park, and Big Marsh as a whole, into a regional destination and community asset.
Through much planning, investment, and local stakeholder input, Big Marsh is now a safe, open, and inviting park space for Chicago and the neighboring communities.
Big Marsh Park features
- Ford Calumet Environmental Center (FCEC)
- Gravel biking and walking trails
- BMX jump lines, pump track and single track courses
- Walking trails along the marsh
- Picnic and grilling area
- Pump Tracks
Big Marsh Park has vast options for nature exploration of all ages. From fort-building and bug catching, to bird watching, and BMX bike jump lines, there is something for everyone.
For more information on scheduling a school fieldtrip, community outing, and volunteer or stewardship events, please contact Program and Event Facilitator, Joel Zavala at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once the site of a waste and slag dumping ground from surrounding industrial operations since the late 1800s, the City of Chicago and the Chicago Park District teamed up in early 2000s to restore this area to a healthy habitat and eco-recreation park. The Chicago Park District acquired the site in 2011 and began the park planning, environmental assessment, and community input process. A Framework Plan for the park was completed in 2014. Design for the bike park feature in the southwest section of the park began in 2014 and the bike park opened in 2016. The northwest section of the park also opened to the public in 2016 with a new walking trail and parking lot. Big Marsh will be the site for the future Ford Calumet Environmental Center, expected to open in 2018.