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Chicago, Suburban Cook Invited August 12 to Celebrate Completion of the North Branch Trail of the Forest Preserves of Cook County

Aug 7, 2017

Visitors Can Participate in Unique Interactive Challenge: Postcards from the North Branch Trail All Summer Long!


Cook County bike riders, hikers and explorers now can now feel free to enjoy a full 22 miles of nature and wildlife with the newly-completed southern extension of the Forest Preserves of Cook County’s North Branch Trail.  The new trail segment extends the existing North Branch Trail three miles south, from Devon Avenue and Caldwell Avenue to Foster Avenue and Kostner Avenue, in Chicago.


The southern extension of the North Branch Trail will improve and enhance the trail for better connectivity and expose more Chicagoans to the beauty and abundant nature within Cook County.


On Saturday, August 12, officials invite the community to celebrate the completion of the $7.7 million extension and the full North Branch Trail, which meanders north as far as the Chicago Botanic Gardens in Glencoe. Forest Preserves of Cook County General Superintendent Arnold Randall, federal and local officials and Forest Preserves volunteers will participate in a 10 a.m. ribbon cutting ceremony at the Irene C. Hernandez Family Picnic Grove at 4498 W. Foster Avenue, Chicago.


They will also kick-off a unique, social-media-driven challenge. Postcards from the North Branch Trail is a two-month photo-sharing event encouraging new and existing visitors to share their experiences on the extended trail, which winds through ten communities. Visitors can take photos in life-sized postcards located at six key trail locations, and then post their photos on Facebook, Instagram and  Twitter.


The life-sized Postcards for capturing trail experiences can be found at these locations. Find them on the Forest Preserves’ Interactive Map:

  • Irene C. Hernandez Family Picnic Area, Chicago
  • LaBagh Woods, Chicago
  • Bunker Hill, Chicago
  • Harms Woods, Skokie/Glenview
  • Skokie Lagoons, Winnetka
  • Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe


Participants in Postcards from the North Branch Trail will automatically be entered into a drawing to win prizes or discounts to rentals on kayaks, canoes or bicycles, as well as swag from the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Learn more about the Postcards challenge by visiting



“We want Cook County residents and visitors to feel free to ride, walk or run the North Branch Trail, and we’re thrilled to have completed this critical project on the most popular trail in our system,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “We hope the Postcards from the North Branch Trail Challenge will encourage trail visits and also promote education — and help us expand our community of volunteers who support preservation, participate in conservation and enjoy the recreation we offer within the Preserves.”


“We are proud to mark the completion of the southern extension of the North Branch Trail, and are excited to kick off our Postcards challenge,” said Randall. “We encourage city and suburban residents who’ve never visited the trail to hop on a bike or go for a walk to experience the lagoons, flora, wildlife and other amenities found in the nearly 70,000 acres of wild and wonderful,” he added.


The Trail is one of the most popular among the Forest Preserves’ 300 miles of trails in Cook County. Features of the extended trail include better connectivity to communities through two new bridges over the Chicago River North Branch and the Milwaukee District North line Metra tracks, and a new on-demand signalized crossing at the Matthew Bieszczat Volunteer Resource Center at 6100 N. Central Avenue.


The southern extension project totaled $7.7 million, with 80 percent federal funds through the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s (CMAP) Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program (CMAQ). The remaining 20 percent is funded by the Forest Preserves, along with $192,000 of Open Space Impact Fee Funds (OSIF) designated by Alderman Margaret Laurino (39th).


“I share the excitement of many 39th Ward residents and other neighboring Chicago communities who have eagerly waited for the southern trail extension,” said Laurino. “Whether you’re a serious cyclist or a casual walker and rider like I am, the North Branch Trail extension now brings beautiful outings right into our neighborhood,” Laurino added.


Since the release of its Recreational Master Plan in 2013, the Forest Preserves has been building trails at a rapid pace, with 16 percent of the entire system being built in the last two years. Of the 150.3 miles of paved trails, 24.3 miles have been built since 2014.


For more information on the North Branch Trail, including bike rental opportunities, or to download a trail map, visit



Visit two of the treasures of the Forest Preserves of Cook County