North Branch Trail System

Yellow-leaved trees in autumn along the paved North Branch Trail in Miami Woods
Autumn along the North Branch Trail in Miami Woods.

The North Branch Trail System offers paved and unpaved trails along approximately 20 miles of the North Branch of the Chicago River, making it a premier biking route in the northern suburbs. Connecting Chicago to the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, the system includes trail loops through ecological restoration sites with diverse native wildlife.

On this page:


Overview & Maps

North Branch Trail System

Location: Chicago, Glenview, Morton Grove, Niles, Northbrook, Northfield, Skokie & Winnetka

Surface

Paved & Unpaved

Estimated Total Length

36.7 miles

Hours

Year-round: Sunrise to Sunset

Closures & Alerts

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

Trail Access

Access the North Branch 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.


Irene C. Hernandez Family Picnic Grove
(part of LaBagh Woods)
W Foster Ave, east of N Cicero Ave

LaBagh Woods
N Cicero Ave, north of W Foster Ave
Chicago, IL 60630 (view web map of LaBagh Woods)

Forest Glen Woods
N Forest Glen Ave, north of N Elston Ave


Caldwell Woods
W Devon Ave & N Nagle Ave
Chicago, IL 60646 (view web map of Caldwell Woods)

Bunker Hill
W Harts Rd, southwest of W Toughy Ave
Niles, IL 60714 (view web map of Bunker Hill)

Miami Woods
N Caldwell Ave, north of Oakton St
Morton Grove, IL 60053 (view web map of Miami Woods)

Linne Woods
W Dempster St, east of Lehigh Ave
Morton Grove, IL 60053 (view web map of Linne Woods)

Calvin R. Sutker Grove
(part of Harms Woods)
Woods Dr, north of Golf Rd

Harms Woods-South
Harms Rd, north of Golf Rd
Cook County, IL 60077 (view web map of Harms Woods-South)
(near Skokie)

Harms Woods-Central
Harms Rd, south of Old Orchard Rd
Cook County, IL 60077 (view web map of Harms Woods-Central)
(near Skokie)

Harms Woods-North
Harms Rd & Old Orchard Rd
Cook County, IL 60077 (view web map of Harms Woods-North)
(near Skokie)

Glenview Woods
(part of Harms Woods)
Harms Rd, south of Glenview Rd
Glenview, IL 60025 (view web map of Glenview Woods)

Blue Star Memorial Woods
E Lake Ave, east of Wagner Rd

Tower Road
(part of Skokie Lagoons)
Tower Rd, west of Forestway Dr
Cook County, IL 60093 (view web map of Tower Road)
(near Winnetka)
847-414-5883

Tower Road Boat Launch
(part of Skokie Lagoons)
Tower Rd, west of Forestway Dr
(near Winnetka)

Forest Way Grove
(part of Skokie Lagoons)
Forest Way Dr, south of Dundee Rd
Cook County, IL 60022 (view web map of Forest Way Grove)
(near Glencoe)

Chicago Botanic Garden
1000 Lake Cook Rd
847-835-6801

Pale-leaved sunflowers along the North Branch Trail at Harms Woods
Pale-leaved sunflowers along the trail at Harms Woods.

Recommended Hikes

Introductory

Paved Loop around Skokie Lagoons

  • Length: 4.4 miles
  • Surface: Paved
  • Terrain: Rolling

The Skokie Lagoons are a 242-acre network of pools, channels and wooded islands that meander between Winnetka, Northfield and Glencoe, offering respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Originally one of the region’s largest and richest marshes, much of the area was drained by settlers for agriculture. In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps created the current lagoon system to address flooding and provide more recreational opportunities to residents and visitors in Cook County.

Hike the 4.4-mile paved loop around the lagoons starting at Tower Road. Stop along the way and enjoy a picnic; there are sheltered areas that can accommodate small or large groups. Get out on the water after your hike—boat rentals are available at Tower Road 


Tower Road
(part of Skokie Lagoons)
Tower Rd, west of Forestway Dr
Cook County, IL 60093 (view web map of Tower Road)
(near Winnetka)
847-414-5883

Intermediate

Out-and-back between Bunker Hill and Linne Woods

  • Length: 8 miles
  • Surface: Paved
  • Terrain: Mostly Flat

There is so much to see and do along the North Branch Trail. To get started, you might want to try hiking from Bunker Hill to Linne Woods, approximately 4 miles one way. 

Bunker Hill, Miami Woods, and Linne Woods are thriving after decades of habitat restoration. Bunker Hill and Miami Woods are great birding sites, and the trail winding through them alternates between whispering woods and sunny stretches of prairie. In the summer the prairie groves burst with colorful displays of wildflowers. There are indoor bathrooms and picnic areas at Bunker Hill and Linne Woods.


Bunker Hill
W Harts Rd, southwest of W Toughy Ave
Niles, IL 60714 (view web map of Bunker Hill)

Linne Woods
W Dempster St, east of Lehigh Ave
Morton Grove, IL 60053 (view web map of Linne Woods)

Advanced

Bunker Hill to the Chicago Botanic Garden

  • Length: 15+ miles
  • Surface: Paved
  • Terrain: Rolling

Many cyclists know the North Branch Trail as “the bike path to the Botanic Garden,” an apt description. If you’re feeling ambitious, a great ride begins at Bunker Hill, a preserve with plenty of parking. From there it’s approximately 15 miles north to the Chicago Botanic Garden, where trail users can enter for free.

You’ll enjoy scenic woodland and prairie vistas as you travel through Miami Woods, Linne Woods, and Harms Woods—all of which are thriving natural areas that have benefited from decades of active habitat restoration. Continue on the trail through Skokie Lagoons to reach the Chicago Botanic Garden.


Bunker Hill
W Harts Rd, southwest of W Toughy Ave
Niles, IL 60714 (view web map of Bunker Hill)

Chicago Botanic Garden
1000 Lake Cook Rd
847-835-6801