Trail Descriptions


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Enjoy 300+ miles of trails throughout Cook County

 

The Forest Preserves features over 200 miles of paved trails and over 100 miles unpaved trails. Our trails are popular for hiking, biking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing and more. Access to trails is available at many preserve parking lots (see some specific recommended access points below).

 

Please be a courteous trail user by following posted signs and taking note of our trail rules. Visit our “Share the Trail” interactive website for tips on creating a positive experience for all trail users. And make sure to check our closures page for any construction or conditions that might impact your visit.




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Arie Crown Trails

Total Length: 3.4 miles
Type: Unpaved
Uses: Hiking, Biking, Cross-Country Skiing
The Arie Crown Trail offers riders a natural setting of gently rolling hills and breathtaking beauty as it winds through the woods. Wildflowers and many other native plants adorn the trail’s edge, making it one of the more beautiful in the county.

 

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Burnham Greenway Trail System

Total Length: 7.8 miles
Type: Paved
Uses: Hiking, Biking
The Burnham Greenway is a former railroad right-of-way linking Chicago to Lansing. The trail is managed in partnership with the Chicago Park District, Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Calumet Memorial Park District.

 

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Busse Forest Trails

Total Length: 12.6 miles
Type: Paved
Uses: Hiking, Biking
The Ned Brown Preserve is a 3,700 acre holding located in northwestern Cook County. This preserve, also known as Busse Woods, surrounds Busse Reservoir, a 590 acre lake that serves as the focal point of the area. A large paved loop circles Busse Reservoir with shorter trail segments fanning out from the loop.

 

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Cal-Sag Trail

Total Length: 13.3 miles
Type: Paved
Uses: Hiking, Biking
The Cal-Sag Trail is the primary east-west multi-purpose trail in Chicago’s south suburbs and eventually will link the Centennial and I&M Canal trails in the west to the Burnham Greenway in the east. Sections of the current trail are maintained by the Forest Preserves, Village of Palos Park, Alsip Park District and the City of Palos Heights. The one mile connection from the Centennial Trail to Cal-Sag Trail along Archer Avenue is still under construction with closed signs posted. This segment of trail will not be open until Spring of 2016.

 

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Centennial Trail & John Husar I&M Canal Trail

Total Length: 18.3 miles
Type: Paved
Uses: Hiking, Biking
The Centennial Trail and John Husar I&M Canal Trail are located within the I&M Canal National Heritage Corridor, the first national park of its kind.

 

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Deer Grove Trails

Total Length: 16.1 miles
Type: Paved & Unpaved
Uses: Hiking, Biking, Equestrian, Cross-Country Skiing
Deer Grove was the first preserve acquired by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Since 1916, it has grown to 1,800 acres that include trails, a sledding hill, a model airplane field, Deer Grove Lake and the revitalized Camp Reinberg. A vast, looping trail system makes it easy to access the preserve’s diverse habitats.

 

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Des Plaines Trail System

Total Length: 27.2 miles
Type: Unpaved
Uses: Hiking, Biking, Equestrian, Cross-Country Skiing
The Des Plaines Trail follows its historic namesake river through multiple forest preserves. This unpaved trail allows visitors to enjoy casual strolls, full-day adventures and anything in between. Explore on your own, or spend quality time with friends and family at one of the many activity areas, including the revitalized Camp Dan Beard. The Des Plaines trail continues another 31 miles north through Lake County, if you want to extend your trip. All-terrain tires are recommended for cyclists.

 

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North Branch Trail System Bike Rentals Available

Total Length: 33.5 miles
Type: Paved & Unpaved
Uses: Hiking, Biking, Equestrian, Cross-Country Skiing
The trail winds along the North Branch of the Chicago River and the Skokie Lagoons, providing access to various picnic groves, golf courses and also the Chicago Botanic Garden. The north end of the trail connects to the Green Bay Trail. Bike rentals are available at Tower Road, Harms Woods, Bunker Hill, Caldwell Woods and the Chicago Botanic Garden.

 

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Palos Trail System

Total Length: 38.9 miles
Type: Unpaved
Uses: Hiking, Biking, Equestrian, Cross-Country Skiing
At 15,000 acres, the Palos Preserves in southwest Cook County are the largest concentration of preserved land in the Forest Preserves. Thanks to more than three decades of habitat restoration, they also hold some of the highest-quality natural areas in the county. These trails join many popular sites, such as the Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center, Pulaski Woods, Saganashkee Slough and Maple Lake which is home to a mountain bike staging area that provides access to almost 40 miles of unpaved trails.

 

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Poplar Creek Trail System

Total Length: 20.9 miles
Type: Paved & Unpaved
Uses: Hiking, Biking, Equestrian, Cross-Country Skiing
Poplar Creek Preserve features an 8.9-mile paved loop circling the eastern portion of the preserve, with looped unpaved trails in the western portion of the preserve (3.7-mile & 2.6-mile options).

 

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Sag Valley Trail System

Total Length: 20.3 miles
Type: Unpaved
Uses: Hiking, Biking, Equestrian, Cross-Country Skiing
The Sag Valley Trail System features over 20 miles of unpaved trails. The centerpiece is an 8.1 mile trail loop that winds its way past the Swallow Cliff Stairs and through Cap Sauers Nature Preserve, taking visitors to the point furthest from a road in all of Cook County.

 

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Salt Creek Trail System

Total Length: 19.5 miles
Type: Paved & Unpaved
Uses: Hiking, Biking, Cross-Country Skiing
A 7.1-mile paved trail starts in Bemis Woods South and continues east to Brookfield Woods, directly across from the Brookfield Zoo. The 1.1-mile paved Salt Creek Greenway Trail follows part of the Des Plaines River, connecting preserves with the Cermak Family Aquatic Center and the Stony Ford Canoe Landing. A series of unpaved trail loops and segments wind through Bemis Woods South, allowing visitors to explore habitats on foot.

 

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Thorn Creek Trail System

Total Length: 21.9 miles
Type: Paved & Unpaved
Uses: Hiking, Biking, Cross-Country Skiing
The Thorn Creek trail system connects multiple forest preserves and offers over 20 miles of paved and stone trails. These trails wind past lakes and wetlands, and through woodlands abundant with birds and other wildlife.

 

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Tinley Creek Trail System

Total Length: 33.2 miles
Type: Paved & Unpaved
Uses: Hiking, Biking, Cross-Country Skiing
The Tinley Creek Trail System connects a series of preserves in and around Oak Forest. Trails take visitors over gently rolling hills, through prairies and forests, and alongside wetlands and ravines. The trail system contains four paved loops that range from 2.7 miles to 9.4 miles, with a connection to the Cal-Sag Trail in the north. Designated unpaved trails permit horseback riding.

 

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The Forest Preserves offers a variety of designated trails, all of which present their own unique challenges and, at times, may be considered dangerous. Some designated trails have paved or graded surfaces and are available for multiple uses. Other designated trails are more primitive/rustic and have a natural unpaved surface. Caution and care should be taken before and during use of all Forest Preserves trails.

 

In many cases, the weather and the proximity of trees to the trail can impact the user experience. All designated trails are subject to the effects of weather which can result in dangerous conditions including flooding. In addition, trees in close proximity to designated trails are subjected to many factors such as disease, insects, soil moisture, wind, fire, snow and human activities which can create tree/limb fall hazards. While the Forest Preserves seeks to identify and remove dangers posed by hazardous trees, trees without apparent defects are also subject to failure and tree hazards cannot always be identified and mitigated. Users of all designated trails are urged to be mindful of potential hazards including the fact that trees may fail at any time.

 

The designated primitive/rustic trails are in a more natural state than the trails with paved or graded surfaces, and are not maintained to the same extent as the paved or graded trails. Accordingly, the designated primitive/rustic trails may have uneven or irregular surfaces and may pose heightened danger or hazard to users. Due to the higher potential for danger or hazardous conditions on or along designated primitive/rustic trails, users of those trails do so at their own risk.

 

In addition to designated paved, graded, and primitive/rustic trails, there are many non-designated trails throughout the Forest Preserves. Such non-designated trails may occur naturally as deer trails or through human foot traffic over time. The Forest Preserves does not encourage, but generally does not prohibit, the use of non-designated trails. Users of such trails, however, should note that the Forest Preserves does not inspect or maintain non-designated trails. Accordingly, hidden and latent dangers, as well as other hazardous conditions, may be encountered on non-designated trails. Users of non-designated trails do so at their own risk and our encouraged to minimize their use of such trails.

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