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Bangs Lake is a natural glacial lake located in northeastern Illinois' Lake County. Bangs Lake is surrounded by the developing northern suburbs of Chicago and found in the Chicagoland Tourism Region. A small portion of Bangs Lake's northern shore remains unincorporated, but the majority of the 306-acre lake lies entirely within the welcoming community of Wauconda, Illinois.
Bangs Lake and this fertile lake-filled county was once home to the people of the Potawatomi Nation. Both treaties and the migration of settlers forced the Potawatomi tribes westward by 1835. In 1836, Justus Bangs moved from Vermont to claim land near the south shore of Bangs Lake. In 1850, Justus Bangs and a friend named Andrew Cook platted a new village and named it Bangs Lake. Residents eventually changed the town's name to Wauconda, meaning "Spirit Water." With the coming of railroads in 1913, Wauconda grew into a pleasant lakeside resort community easily accessible to city-weary residents of Chicago. By the 1930s, Bangs Lake was lined with vacation cabins and summer cottages. The residential landscape began to change in the 1950s and 60s, when city dwellers started moving to suburbia. Today, much of Bangs Lake's six-mile shoreline is lined with condominiums and housing subdivisions offering private lakeside beaches and boat launches to residents.
The Village of Waconda and Bangs Lake Management Committee, a volunteer advisory committee, oversee the maintenance of the lake. Their hard work and diligence have earned Bangs Lake the reputation of having excellent water quality for swimming and boating. Residents of Bangs Lake participate in the Volunteer Lake Management Program (VLMP) and licensed beaches are monitored on a regular basis by the Lake County Health Department.
Beach Park, located at the south end of Bangs Lake, provides the only public access to the lake. This one-acre park includes a children's playground and has life guards on duty during from Memorial Day through Labor Day. For a fee, the Wauconda Park District provides public boat slips, launch passes and beach passes.
Boaters should be aware of several restrictions on Bangs Lake. The boat speed limit is 30 mph with no wake enforced between 8 p.m. and 10 a.m. Boat traffic is also required to move in a counter-clockwise direction. Enforced by the Wauconda Police Marine Patrol, water skiers and personal watercraft operators must be sure to maintain safe distances from other lake users.
With a maximum depth of 32 feet and average depth of 11 feet, Bangs Lake is known to provide an excellent fishing environment. Be forewarned: week-ends and holidays may attract large crowds of boaters and fishermen. Those who want to cast their line into Bangs Lake will find channel catfish, black crappie, white crappie, largemouth bass, bluegill, northern pike, yellow perch, yellow bass and yellow bullhead.
With a population of approximately 12,000 people, Wauconda is a growing, family-friendly community. Residents and visitors of Bangs Lake will find an impressive selection of local activities and services in a small town atmosphere. Over 15 public and private golf courses are available for the golf enthusiast. Among the amenities found at Homer T. Cook Memorial Park are ball fields, soccer fields, a picnic shelter, volleyball courts, skate park, walking trails, and access to fishing along the shores of Bangs Lake. Wauconda's historic downtown invites an afternoon of browsing shops and dining on mouth-watering cuisine.
Also in Wauconda, Lake County Discovery Museum tells the history of Lake County through interactive exhibits. In addition to regularly scheduled classes, events, and changing exhibits, the museum displays "the nation's largest permanent exhibition on the history and significance of postcards." Less than a quarter mile east of Bangs Lake is Wauconda Bog Nature Preserve. Seek permission from the Lake County Forest Preserve District before entering the preserve because it does not have developed access. The bog holds over 100 plant species including tamarack, orchids, yellow birch, winterberry holly, and poison sumac. The Forest Preserve District states that this National Natural Landmark is unique in that it provides "a source of relict pollen, preserved in layers of peat, which provides information on plant migration after the retreat of the glaciers."
Less than 15 miles northwest of Bangs Lake, Moraine Hills State Park continues the trek through glacial history. The park's Lake Defiance remains in a "near-natural state" from its glacial origins. Surrounded by marsh land and bogs, the park is a nature lover's delight. In addition to its natural features, visitors may observe red fox, coyote, white-tailed deer, eastern cottontail, mink, opossum, and raccoon. Bird watchers will enjoy looking for mallards, teal, wood ducks, and Canada geese. Fishing is available within posted regulations. Shotgun deer hunting is available with permit.
Enjoy a thirty-mile drive north of Bangs Lake and you will arrive at an angler's paradise. Chain O'Lakes State Park will satisfy the needs of even the most avid water enthusiast. This 2,793-acre park contains 6,500 acres of water and 488 miles of shoreline. Grass Lake, Marie Lake, Nippersink Lake, and Fox River border the state park and connect to the remaining seven lakes found in Illinois' Chain O'Lakes: Bluff, Fox, Pistakee, Channel, Petite, Catherine, and Redhead lakes. Fish species found among Lake Antioch and the Chain O'Lakes may include sunfish, bluegill, largemouth bass, walleye, crappie, muskie, northern pike, bullhead, catfish, yellow and white bass. Other amenities include a picnic area and trail designed for disabled visitors, standard picnic areas, water fountains, restrooms, and camping, in addition to dove, waterfowl, deer, and pheasant hunting, hiking, and horseback trails used for snowmobiling in the winter.
The opportunity to enjoy private lakeside living within 50 miles of downtown Chicago has attracted people to Wauconda for decades. What was once a quaint summer resort has grown into a residential community where vacation rentals and real estate properties offer a relaxed way of life. Come to Bangs Lake and enjoy the summer Multisport Festival, the Fall Farm Festival, the winter Walk on Water Ice Fishing Derby, and the spring thaw of Bangs Lake. Select a home on Bangs Lake and celebrate lakeside living any time of year.
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