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Fall Feels: Bike, Hike & View the Lake County Colors

Do you have all the fall feels? Well, time to list your fall feels: bike, hike & view the Lake County colors.

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. In addition, Lake County provides outdoor escapes with an up-close and personal look at live-action Claude Monet portraits.

 

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Lake County is home to hundreds of miles of trails for you to explore! So whether you’re looking for a quick hike or if you’re looking for a more challenging distance on a two-wheeler, there are trails for all fitness levels just waiting for you.

Continue scrolling to see a list of Turkey Trots in Lake County

Ready. Set. Go and achieve your fall feels: bike, hike & view the Lake County colors!

Des Plaines River Trail in Lake County

 

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This trail is all about convenience… mainly because no matter where you are in Lake County, you’re probably not far from the Des Plaines River Trail – considering it runs the entire north/south length of the county. The trail offers absolutely stunning views and runs from the Wisconsin border, through 31 miles of Lake County and down into Cook County, including 12 Lake County Forest Preserves.  It also links other trails like the North Shore Bike Path, the McClory Trail and the Millennium Trail. Beautiful throughout the year, this trail connects our favorite destinations on the north end like Van Patten Woods, Wadsworth Savanna, Sedge Meadow, Lake Carina and Independence Grove.  The trail and greenway is protected land. More than 85 percent of the river is in the land of lakes, providing wildlife habitat, natural flood protection and outdoor recreation viewing and play opportunities.

Illinois Beach State Park in Zion

 

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Experience the scenic views of Lake Michigan’s stunning shoreline and experience some of Lake County’s most pristine outdoor spaces. Within this 4,160 acre park, you can hike the north end of the park on a graveled 2.2-mile loop trail that brings you through the prairie, the forest and, of course, the sandy beaches. Start in the Zion visitor center’s parking lot on the park’s south side and follow the route south. Discover a world outside your own on top of the lookout platforms along the way. Stop along the beach at the end of mile marker 1 to enjoy Lake Michigan’s beautiful sights before continuing on the trail.

Chain O’Lakes State Park in Antioch and Spring Grove

 

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The Spring Grove area is one of the two-state parks in Lake County (the other one is Illinois Beach State Park). Choose from four trail systems!  For a brief and relaxing stroll, try the Nature’s Way hiking trail by Oak Grove Picnic Area, which stretches 2.25 miles, while the Pike Mash in the North Picnic Area has a mini trail running a mere .25 miles long. There is also an equestrian trail with three loops running eight miles. The opportunities are endless as you can choose the popular biking/hiking trail for a six-mile hike. FYI, bird watching is everything at the Spring Grove state park. Continue here to learn more about our flying friends.

Independence Grove Forest Preserve in Libertyville

 

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Centered around a 115-acre lake, this preserve offers a variety of surrounding prairie and woodlands provides 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 is a paved trail stretching 2.5 miles, and North Bay Trail Loop is 0.75 miles, while South Bay Trail Loop runs 0.70 miles.

Green Belt Forest Preserve in North Chicago

 

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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.

Millennium Trail and Greenway in Mundelein


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 have two disconnected spots in the route. The trail ends in Forest View Park.

Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve in Lake Forest

 

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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 in Lake County

 

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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). Experience 25.4 miles of amber and auburn colored trees and escape through rural, quaint Lake County town.  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 course.

North Point Marina in Winthrop Harbor

 

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Arrive by boat or land to this sleepy yet hopping Illinois Department of Natural Resources area connected to Illinois Beach State Park. Discover miles of this wetland of international importance. Bike the trails, hike the trails, stroll the boardwalk and explore from the nature observation tower. On your walk, you can view migrating raptors and endangered plants and animals that call that area home. This connects to the Robert McClory  Path and the Des Plaines River Trail.

Edward L. Ryerson Conservation Area in Riverwoods

 

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Over 6.5 miles of scenic trails wind through woods to the Des Plaines River. Trails at the Riverwoods LCFPD entity are open for hiking and cross-country skiing when snow is at least four inches deep. These gravel pathways and trails lead past historic buildings, next to the Des Plaines River and into a woodland dense enough to block out most human-made noises.

Heron Creek Forest Preserve in Lake Zurich


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.

Beulah Park Nature Area in Zion

 

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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 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 cycling skills, it’s good on foot, too, if you choose to hike instead.

Ray Lake in Mundelein

 

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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.

Buffalo Grove Bikeway System

 

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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.  This fall, have an adventure by opting for a bike ride instead of the car with this conveniently designed alternative.

Other Lake County Trails

 

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  • Buffalo Creek 5.5 miles
  • 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.
  • Sedge Meadow, 1.7 miles.
  • Skokie Valley Bike Path, 9.8 miles.
  • Sun Lake, 3.25 miles.
  • Van Patten Woods, 1.7 miles.

Turkey Trots in Lake County

  • Turkey Trot in Waukegan (Nov. 13) INFO»
  • Grayslake Central Ninth Annual Turkey Trot (Nov. 21) INFO»
  • Wauconda Turkey Trot (Nov. 25) INFO»
  • North Shore Turkey Trot in Highland Park (Nov. 25) INFO»
  • Long Grove Turkey Trot 5K/8K (Nov. 25) INFO»
  • 26th Annual Jon Callaghan Turkey Trot 5K Fun Run & Walk in Gurnee (Nov. 25) INFO»

Hike & Bike Tidbits

Hike Lake County Challenge (Through Nov. 30)

 

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Journey through the great outdoors and earn some hiking swag as you explore the kaleidoscopic fall colors in the forest preserve district’s Hike Lake County Challenge. Use the travel log and complete seven hikes through November 30 and you could earn a commemorative hiking shield for your walking stick, a dog tag or a zipper pull (while supplies last). Feel free to invite your canine compadre to the stroll. Bicycling and horseback riding are not a part of this program.

Grayslake Bike Share Program


Grayslake debuted Lake County’s first bike-sharing program after three years of deliberation last year. Rental locations will include the town’s Metra station, downtown Grayslake‘s village center, Mill Creek Park, the College of Lake County (CLC) campus and Central Park. The two-year pilot program is between CLC, Grayslake Area Public Library and Grayslake Community Park District in partnership with Iowa-based Koloni Inc. company. Rentals cost $3 for the first hour of use and $1 for each extra 60-minute interval via the app. Together We #RideGrayslake.


For more information about all the fall outdoors, continue here. To capture your festive fall photo-op, click here. To learn about all things about hiking and biking in the land of lakes, continue here.

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