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Where To Hike and Bike While Practicing Social Distancing in Lake County

No matter the season, we enjoy the fruits of what Mother Nature gave us in Lake County: The tall trees, the winding trails, the serene bodies of waters, the creatures and critters and the picturesque plant life. Lake County provides outdoor escapes from the shelter in place with an up close and personal live-action Claude Monet portraits.

Lake County is all about the great outdoors.  With more than 30,000 acres of forest preserves to explore, it can be pretty hard to do it on foot. Hiking and biking in the land of lakes is a great way to explore more of our nature, and with so many miles of trails, you can forget that you’re just north of Chicago. The Des Plaines River Trail runs north and south while passing through several Lake County Forest Preserves like Van Patton Woods, Wadsworth Savanna, Sedge Meadow, Lake Carina, Independence Grove and Wilmot Woods.

To follow the CDC guidelines and safe social distancing, public buildings, restrooms, playgrounds and dog exercise areas are closed until further notice. The Lake County Forest Preserves will remain open from 6:30-sunset.

Here’s where to hike and bike while practicing social distancing in Lake County and remember, keep it six feet apart.

Des Plaines River Trail

 

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his trail offers absolutely stunning views and runs from the Wisconsin border, through 31 miles of Lake County, including 12 Lake County Forest Preserves.  It also provides a link to other trails like the North Shore Bike Path, the McClory Trail and the Millennium Trail.  Whether you’re biking along the peaceful Des Plaines River, coasting under bridges, passing through forest preserves or traveling through scenic meadows, the Des Plaines River trail always offers a picturesque view. The trail and greenway protect land along with more than 85 percent of the river in Lake County, providing wildlife habitat, natural flood protection and outdoor recreation opportunities.

Greenbelt Forest Preserve

 

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The preserve offers five miles of trails for hiking, four miles of trails for bicycling and a one-mile self-guided nature trail. The North Chicago trail has an abundance of birds, wildflowers and landscapes. During this time, the LCDOT roundabout at Dugdale Road and 14th Street is open, but the short trail connection from Greenbelt’s main trail loop to Dugdale Road is closed.

Millennium Trail and Greenway


The trail beginning in Mundelein stretches nearly 30 miles. Besides biking and hiking in the fall, the path is also perfect for horseback riding and cross-country skiing in the winter. The Lake County Forest Preserve trail and greenway has two disconnected spots in the route. The trail ends in Forest View Park.

Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve

 

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Experience 3.65 miles of trails for recreation and nature observation, while learning about Fort Sheridan’s deep history. The Highland Park, Highwood and Lake Forest location has four trails: Hutchinson Trail (one mile) Lake Overlook Trail (0.2 miles), Parade Grounds Trail (0.75 miles) and the Birding Trail Loop (1.7 miles, ideal for birdwatching).

Robert McClory Bike Path


A portion of this Lake County trail originally was a section of the North Shore Bike Path. The Robert McClory Trail starts in Kenosha and runs south through Highland Park. This path takes you east, parallel to Lake Michigan (but not along the lake). Enjoy grand views of amber and auburn colored trees and escape through rural, quaint Lake County towns on this 25-mile path.  Make an even more memorable day out of this trail by stopping by the Chicago Botanic Gardens, where you can explore the Glencoe sanctuary by bike from the southernmost portion of the trail.

North Shore Bike Trail


This eight-mile trail runs from Lake Bluff to Mundelein and links up to the Robert McClory Bike Path at the intersection of Scranton Ave., and Sheridan Rd.  Running parallel to 176, this path goes through open plains, cross the Des Plaines River (Pick up the Des Plaines River Trail here if you want) and even passes by Lambs Farm. It also goes around the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, which has some of the most beautiful fall colors in Lake County.

Ray Lake in Mundelein


Ray Lake visitors can hike, ride bikes or horses, and cross-country ski on a 2.3-mile gravel trail that winds around wetlands and open prairies. The path also includes three boardwalks and a scenic overlook.

Independence Grove in Libertyville


Centered around a 115-acre lake, this preserve offers a variety of surrounding prairie and woodlands provide a picturesque backdrop for hiking and biking opportunities. Roughly 6.25 miles of trails circle the lake and run through scenic natural areas. Independence Grove is home to gravel, paved and combo paved and gravel trails. In the gravel department, Lakeside Trail runs 2.3 miles and there is a short section that connects to the Des Plaines River Trail. Overlook Trail, a paved trail stretches 2.5 miles and North Bay Trail Loop is 0.75 miles, while South Bay Trail Loop runs 0.70 miles.

Beulah Park Nature Area in Zion


The Zion Park District area attains a five-mile single-track trail where mountain bikers and BMXers go play. It’s a tad hidden starting near the intersection of Gideon Avenue and Kedron Boulevard (19th Street). This is a great trail, especially for those that like to stand in two states at once. The trail ends right a few miles south of Wisconsin. This web of ways follows the Kellogg Ravine and has an asphalt trail. On the east end of the park, there is a BMX jump area. For those without the cycle skills, it’s good on foot too if you choose to hike instead.

Heron Creek in Lake Zurich

 

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The Lake Zurich forest preserve offers an exploration of 2.5 miles of gravel trails for hiking, biking, and in the wintertime, cross-country skiing. See nature in action as 116 birds call this area home, including six state endangered bird species, black tern, black-crowned heron, yellow-crowned heron, red-shouldered hawks and more.

Buffalo Grove Bikeway System

This relatively urban system of bike paths connects local businesses and makes it easy and safe for bicyclists to get around the Buffalo Grove area.  Explore community parks, golf courses, the Ryerson Forest Preserve and even connect to Lincolnshire.  Have an adventure this fall by opting for a bike ride instead of the car with this conveniently designed alternative.

Other Lake County Trails

  • Buffalo Creek.
  • Cuba Marsh, 0.9 miles.
  • Grant Woods, 1.6 miles.
  • Half Day, 1.6 miles.
  • Hastings Lake, 2.2 miles.
  • Lakewood, 1.7 miles.
  • Marl Flat, 1.8 miles.
  • Old School, 2.7 miles.
  • Prairie Crossing Bike Path, 3.7 miles.
  • Rollins Savanna, 3.6 miles.
  • Ryerson Woods, 2.5 miles.
  • Sedge Meadow, 1.7 miles.
  • Skokie Valley Bike Path, 9.8 miles.
  • Sun Lake, 3.25 miles.
  • Van Patten Woods, 1.7 miles.

Note: Chain O’Lakes State Park, North Point Marina and Illinois Beach State Park are closed for the time being, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. If it reopens during this social distancing period, we will adjust.


To find more about where you can hike and bike while social distancing in Lake County, continue here. To learn more about all things going on in the land of lakes, click here.

 

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