Walkers, runners and hikers regularly use the more than 300 miles of paved and unpaved trails in the Forest Preserves for exercise and exploration, to walk their dogs, and as a way to get from Point A to Point B.
Faster trail users. Bikers and equestrians, as well as runners, approaching from behind will often say “On your left.” This means you should stay to your right.
Bikers yield to foot traffic. It is the responsibility of cyclists to pass at a safe speed. Offer friendly communication to let the rider know when it’s safe to pass: give verbal acknowledgement, step to the side of the trail, or wave the rider by on a wider trail.
Share the trail. When travelling in a group, remember to stay single file or take up no more than half the trail. Be sure everyone in your group understands what actions to take when encountering hikers, runners, bikers and horses.
Don’t tune out. If you wear headphones, keep the volume down or only wear one earpiece so other trail users don’t startle you.
Keep a short leash on your dog when passing (or being passed by) horses, cyclists or other foot traffic. Remember that other trail users may be frightened by dogs or unsure how to pass safely.
Yield to horses.
The Forest Preserves offers 147 miles of paved trails that are frequented by a variety of users travelling at different speeds, from walkers and joggers, to families with young children and bicycle commuters.
Varying Speeds: Fast moving users can startle others, especially when approaching from behind. Always ride under control, anticipate other users, and be communicative and friendly. Pass on the left and say “On your left.”
Bikers yield to walkers and uphill traffic.
Announce your intention to pass with a friendly “On your left.”
Approximately 50 miles of stone and natural surface trails wind through the 15,000 acres of wilderness in the Palos Preserves in southwest Cook County. This is the area’s premiere destination for mountain bikers of all skill levels. Off-trail riding is prohibited.
Surprised trail users: Fast moving users can startle others, especially when approaching from behind. Always ride under control, anticipate others and announce yourself around blind corners. In general, be friendly, communicative and aware of your surroundings. If you wear headphones, keep the volume down or only wear one earpiece.
Mountain bikers yield to hikers, horses and uphill traffic.
Horses may use any of our stone and natural surface trails. Most equestrian activity takes place in the northwest and southwest areas of the County. Off-trail riding is prohibited, and horses and riders must have Forest Preserve licenses.
Inexperienced trail users. While all trail users yield to horses, many are intimidated by large horses, or they just don’t know what to do.
Manage your animals. Don’t school green horses in hightraffic areas. Familiarize horses with expected trail encounters (cyclists, dogs, backpack-wearing hikers, etc.)
Negotiate safe passage.
Nature center trails are special.The trails at the Forest Preserves’ six nature centers provide unique and important learning opportunities for their visitors. Therefore, dogs, bikes and horses are not permitted on the trails inside nature center gates. You can find more info at fpdcc.com/preserves-and-trails/rules-and-regulations.
We need your help!
The Forest Preserves is seeking new volunteers to join our Trail Watch program. Become additional eyes and ears for our Law Enforcement Department, and help us keep the preserves safe, healthy and attractive for all our users. Just by going out and enjoying the preserves, you can be a visible presence to help make our preserves even more welcoming.
Support. Your positive, visible presence increases a sense of safety and discourages prohibited conduct.
Monitor. Familiarity with your route allows you to easily recognize troubling trends and issues.
Report. Prompt reporting leads to prompt resolution and reduces the chance that the unwanted behavior will reoccur.Apply Here »
Don’t use wet trails. If you are leaving prints (hoof, tire or shoe) the trail is too wet to use. When approaching muddy spots, go through the center of the mud to keep the trail narrow.
Stay on the trail. Do not go off the trail (even to pass), create new trails or cut switchbacks. Narrow trails mean less environmental impact and happier critters.
Respect. If you offer respect, you are more likely to receive it. All groups have rights and responsibilities to Cook County’s trails and to each other. Be friendly and expect to see folks around every corner.
Don’t block trails. When taking a break, move to the side of the trail.
Preserve our natural areas. Please put trash in its place.
A note for dog owners. Please be sure to pick up after your pet. And remember that all dogs must be leashed.
From the Forest Preserves of Cook County.