Des Plaines Trail System

two people enjoying fall colors on the Des Plaines River Trail

The unpaved Des Plaines Trail follows its namesake river through more than a dozen forest preserves, allowing visitors to enjoy casual strolls, full-day adventures and anything in between.

On this page:


Overview & Maps

Des Plaines Trail System

Location: Chicago, Des Plaines, Glenview, Melrose Park, Mount Prospect, Northbrook, Park Ridge, River Forest, Rosemont, Schiller Park & Wheeling

Surface

Paved & Unpaved

Estimated Total Length

28.4 miles

Hours

Year-round: Sunrise to Sunset

Closures & Alerts

*Please be a courteous trail user: Follow posted signs and our trail rules and etiquette.

Des Plaines Trail Improvements

The Forest Preserves of Cook County is working on several projects on the Des Plaines Trail System to improve trail user experience, enhance safety and explore extending the trail. View the Des Plaines Trail Improvements project page.


Trail Access

Access the Des Plaines Trail System at any of these forest preserve locations (ordered from South to North). Check out the trail maps listed above to find on-street or bikeway access points.


Sunset Bridge Meadow
North Ave, east of N 1st Ave
River Grove, IL 60171 (view web map of Sunset Bridge Meadow)

Evans Field
W Bloomingdale Ave & Thatcher Ave
River Grove, IL 60171 (view web map of Evans Field)

Jerome Huppert Woods
N Thatcher Ave, south of W Fullerton Ave
River Grove, IL 60171 (view web map of Jerome Huppert Woods)

Fullerton Woods
W Fullerton Ave, west of N 1st Ave
River Grove, IL 60171 (view web map of Fullerton Woods)

Schiller Woods-South
W Irving Park Rd, east of Des Plaines River Rd
Schiller Park, IL 60634 (view web map of Schiller Woods-South)

Schiller Woods-West
W Irving Park Rd, east of Des Plaines River Rd
Schiller Park, IL 60634 (view web map of Schiller Woods-West)

Schiller Woods-East
W Irving Park Rd, west of N Cumberland Ave

Robinson Woods-South
Lawrence Ave, west of N East River Rd

Catherine Chevalier Woods
N East River Rd, north of W Foster Ave

Dam No. 4 Woods-East
S Dee Rd, north of Devon Ave

Camp Ground Road Woods
E Algonquin Rd & Joseph Schwab Rd

Northwestern Woods
Joseph Schwab Rd, south of Minor St
Des Plaines, IL 60016 (view web map of Northwestern Woods)

Big Bend Lake
Bender Rd, south of Golf Rd
Des Plaines, IL 60016 (view web map of Big Bend Lake)

Beck Lake
East River Rd & Central Road
Cook County, IL 60016 (view web map of Beck Lake)
(near Des Plaines)

Camp Pine Woods
W Lake Ave/E Eucilid Ave, east of N Des Plaines River Rd
Cook County, IL 60056 (view web map of Camp Pine Woods)
(near Mount Prospect)

Lake Avenue Woods-East
W Lake Ave/E Eucilid Ave, east of N Des Plaines River Rd
(near Northbrook)

River Trail Nature Center
3120 Milwaukee Ave
847-824-8360

Allison Woods
Milwaukee Ave & Winkleman Rd
Cook County, IL 60062 (view web map of Allison Woods)
(near Northbrook)

Dam No. 1 Woods-East
Dundee Rd, east of Milwaukee Ave

Potawatomi Woods
E Dundee Rd, east of N Milwaukee Ave
Cook County, IL 60062 (view web map of Potawatomi Woods)
(near Northbrook)

a person walking on the Des Plaines Trail in winter

Recommended Hikes

Introductory

Out-and-back between Beck Lake and River Trail Nature Center

  • Length: 5.2 miles
  • Surface: Unpaved
  • Terrain: Flat

Starting at Beck Lake, take the Green Unpaved Spur to the Unpaved Yellow Trail and turn north. As you approach the River Trail Nature Center grounds, you’ll notice signs pointing you to the Nature Center building.

During River Trail’s regular hours, you can view wildlife, learn about the area’s natural history or take a self-guided tour through the beautiful sugar maple woods. To complete the hike, head back to the Unpaved Yellow Trail and head south toward Beck Lake.


Beck Lake
East River Rd & Central Road
Cook County, IL 60016 (view web map of Beck Lake)
(near Des Plaines)

River Trail Nature Center
3120 Milwaukee Ave
847-824-8360

Intermediate

Out-and-back between Big Bend Lake and Dam No. 4 Woods-East

  • Length: 11 miles
  • Surface: Unpaved (with a short Paved segment)
  • Terrain: Mostly Flat

Starting at Big Bend Lake, head south on the Yellow Unpaved Trail for about a mile, where you’ll come across a short paved section through the City of Des Plaines. Reenter the preserves at Camp Ground Road Woods and continue your journey south. The rest of the trail to Dam No. 4 Woods-East is unpaved and passes through a variety of natural communities including oak woodland and floodplain forest.

Look for wildflowers and migrating warblers in the spring. In the fall, you may see tree squirrels, fox squirrels and chipmunks busily gathering the nuts and acorns.

Further along, the floodplain forest around Axehead Lake is rich with corky-barked hackberry. You may well see signs of busy beavers felling trees, keeping the forest open.

Once you reach Dam No. 4 Woods-East, turn around and take the Yellow Unpaved Trail back the way you came.


Big Bend Lake
Bender Rd, south of Golf Rd
Des Plaines, IL 60016 (view web map of Big Bend Lake)

Dam No. 4 Woods-East
S Dee Rd, north of Devon Ave