The Forest Preserves of Cook County is home to more than 350 miles of paved and unpaved trails that are used in a variety of ways. Residents and visitors can walk, run, hike, bike and even ride their horses through diverse habitats. But with so many different uses, how do the trails accommodate everyone?
To promote a peaceful coexistence among all trail users, as well as provide information about respectful and safe behavior, the Forest Preserves recommends that you follow certain precautions when visiting our trails.
- Stick to the official trails that are marked. It’s important not to go off-trail or use unofficial paths because it can harm plants and animals.
- Stay on the right side of the trail. Whether you’re biking or walking, keep to the right and go in a single file if you can.
- Pass others safely. Before passing someone, let them know by ringing a bike bell or saying, “on your left” and slow down. Only pass one person at a time. If you want to pass someone on a horse, ask them for permission first.
- Give way to others. If you’re riding a bike, you should yield to people using other types of transportation. If you’re walking or running, be considerate and give the right of way to those on horses.
- Keep your dog on a leash. Many trails allow dogs, but make sure to keep them on a leash and walk them on the right side of the trail.
- Check if your ride is allowed. Some trails have specific rules about riding horses or bikes, so it’s important to check before you go. Certain vehicles like scooters, unicycles, and gas-powered vehicles are not allowed.
- Ride or bike at a safe speed. If you’re on a bike or e-bike, make sure to travel under 15 miles per hour, especially in busy areas. Follow any posted speed limits.
- Pay attention to trail signs. Signs are there to guide you and let you know about any dangers or busy areas up ahead.
- Keep the trail clear. Don’t block the trail when you stop. Move to the side to make space for others.
- Avoid muddy trails. It’s best not to use wet trails because your footsteps can damage them.
- Protect yourself by wearing a helmet. It’s recommended for everyone, especially kids 14 and under, to wear helmets while biking.
- Be polite and considerate. Remember that the trails are for everyone to enjoy, so be respectful to others you encounter.
Keep in mind that using the trail comes with risks. Take a moment to review our Trail Risk Statement for more information.