Originally built in 1930, the staircase was 100-feet tall with 125 steps, and was used as both a workout location and a way for toboganners to access the top of a sledding hill. The CCFP recognized its increasing popularity, however, and decided to add to it.
Now, the bluff has 293 steps, and because it is slightly west of the other set, there are more landings to rest. Users are also given the option to go up one way, and down the other.
“We always wanted to do something with that area, and since so many people were using the stairs for fitness, it just made sense to sort of complete the circuit,” Lambrini Lukidis, spokesperson for CCFP, told the Tribune.
At the top of the staircase, visitors can enjoy the 800-acre forest preserve by hiking through the hilly terrain, and appreciate the nature and wildlife. There is also a 4.75 mile trail loop west of the cliff.
The project cost $750,000, and an additionally $1.5 million for a new Swallow Cliff Pavilion in the park. The pavilion features restrooms, a warming shelter, outdoor picnic tables and a café that offers beverages and snacks.
“We want the forest preserves to be a destination. We want people to know you don’t have to go to Wisconsin or Indiana or Michigan. You can be close to a lot of beautiful nature, landscapes and activities very close to home,” Lukidis said.