Download the final plan
The Forest Preserves’ trail systems are one of its greatest, most popular assets. Trails provide public access to the Forest Preserves to offer recreation, transportation alternatives, and support economic activity, environmental awareness, and healthy lifestyles. The Forest Preserves completed a Recreation Master Plan in March 2013 that reviewed all aspects of recreation throughout the District. Trails were the most highly rated activity for both the number of users and overall popularity. Due to the extensive scope of the existing and potential trail systems, the Recreation Master Plan recommended that the Forest Preserves develop a separate Trail Master Plan. It also identified more specific needs for trail improvements, namely the need to clearly identify trailheads and to consider adding bike rentals.
The overarching goal of the Trail Master Plan is to improve the user experience and identify opportunities to ensure a safe and easy-to-navigate trail system. This plan is intended to provide baseline information on the current trail system, recommend new policies for managing trails, create a process for assessing requests to improve unrecognized trails and prioritize future capital improvement projects to enhance the system. It also describes the need for further information gathering, as well as, additional staff and volunteers to adequately fund, maintain and police the system as it continues to expand.
The planning process was developed and managed by the Forest Preserves’ Planning and Development Department with assistance from other Preserves departments. An Advisory Committee was formed to support and inform the Trail Master Plan. A survey was also conducted online and on-site at two trail locations to capture suggestions from a sampling of trail users. The first draft was developed in a compressed timeframe from May to September 2013. Additional outreach and review of the draft was completed in the fall of 2013. Because it was not possible to assess all parts of the system during the initial planning period, additional assessment and information gathering continued into 2014. The Forest Preserves will update this Plan and Policy on an annual basis together with the annual update of the 5-year Capital Improvement Plan.