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  1. #1
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    What are some good trails in Northern Illinois? (Lake, Cook, Mchenry, etc. county)

    Hey guys, I started mountain biking about a month ago and so far I am really enjoying it. I have been riding the same trail (Des Plaines River Trail) for the past month or so and have riden it all the way from the beginning to the end multiple times.

    Now I want to explore new territory! Do you guys know of any other decent trails in lake county, cook county, etc... around that area? Id really like a more challanging trail, something with more obstacles, but any suggestion is welcome...I just want to try a different trail!

    Thanks fellas!

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    I have heard good things about the Palos Trails, but haven't ridden them.

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    check out cambr.org.
    Team MOJO Wheels.

  4. #4
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    Palos is awesome and close to you. Rock Cut in Rockford is really good too. Also, Kettle Moraine in Wisconsin is a blast. Hope this helps.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigb73
    Palos is awesome and close to you. Rock Cut in Rockford is really good too. Also, Kettle Moraine in Wisconsin is a blast. Hope this helps.
    Thanks for the tip...you know Kettle Moraine has been mentioned to me by a fella that sold me one of my bikes. I definitely check that out sometime!

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    Quote Originally Posted by DarkKnight369
    I have heard good things about the Palos Trails, but haven't ridden them.
    Thanks for the tip! I will definitely look into it.

  7. #7
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    So basically there is NO good places to mountain bike in lake county illinois at all? I checked that palos place and its 60 miles away which im not too pleased about.

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    You said cook county though, its still in cook I believe. Palos is the only Chicago area Mountain Biking/single track place have heard of.

  9. #9
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    There's a few trails at Deer Grove at Dundee and Quentin:
    http://www.fpdcc.com/downloads/dg_trailmap.pdf

    I ride there from home when I'm jonesing for some dirt. My sons don't like Deer Grove or Palos, so we usually drive to the Kettle and get a great workout.

  10. #10
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    DPRT is not too bad. But it is fairly easy.

    I have heard only good things from many people about Kettle Moraine.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big_Carp
    So basically there is NO good places to mountain bike in lake county illinois at all?
    Beulah Park in Zion.
    It's an informal trail system, so if you're looking for well-marked trails you should go somewhere else. Certainly a change of pace from DPRT, singletrack and many interesting features. Some of the trails haven't gotten a lot of use in the past couple of years so they are getting a little overgrown and cluttered. Really need some more XC riders to ride out there.
    Warning: may contain sarcasm and/or crap made up in an attempt to feel important.

  12. #12
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    RockCut and Kettle are awesome. Im only 10 min from RockCut so its my primary riding spot. Lots of variety and you can do a couple mile or 15+. Kettle is a blast definately spend a day or two out there.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by pursuiter
    There's a few trails at Deer Grove at Dundee and Quentin:
    http://www.fpdcc.com/downloads/dg_trailmap.pdf

    I ride there from home when I'm jonesing for some dirt. My sons don't like Deer Grove or Palos, so we usually drive to the Kettle and get a great workout.
    I thought deer grove closed down all their singletrack..? I kept hearing how it's illegal to ride any of hte good trails there.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by trailville
    Beulah Park in Zion.
    It's an informal trail system, so if you're looking for well-marked trails you should go somewhere else. Certainly a change of pace from DPRT, singletrack and many interesting features. Some of the trails haven't gotten a lot of use in the past couple of years so they are getting a little overgrown and cluttered. Really need some more XC riders to ride out there.
    thanks for the tip! I'll definitely check that place out.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big_Carp
    tip

    Ride the DPRT fast at night. (Bring repellent in case of flat or you might die from anemia.)

    Trailville is the go-to for our area.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big_Carp
    I thought deer grove closed down all their singletrack..? I kept hearing how it's illegal to ride any of hte good trails there.
    Sadly, that's pretty much true.


    cambr.org is a good resource. It has a trail guide section that lists lots of trails. There's also a group of guys on there that would be happy to show you around any trail in the area.

    Another good trail that hasn't been mentioned in this thread is Saw Wee Kee in Oswego. It's all up and down and much of it is technical. I was just there last night and it's in great shape.

  17. #17
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    There are a few minor *legal* single track sections still in deer grove that are maintained by CAMBR (thanks volunteers). Nothing major or too exciting unfortunately.

    I have heard of some trails just over the border in kenosha by the university of wisco-parkside. Has anyone on here ridden these? Was thinking of driving up one day after work.

  18. #18
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    What about beula In Zion?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by 550
    What about beula In Zion?

    Havent been there, here is a link to the info and trail map. Might venture up there after work next week. I work in lake forest so it is fairly close.

    http://www.trailville.com/wiki/IL_La...ah_Park_Trails

  20. #20
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    Yeah I want to hit it up too. I work in VernonHIlls and live in Lake villa.

    Mcdonalds woods is ok.

    I have heard Buela is technical (er)

  21. #21
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    I hear ya. According to that trail map, there are a lot of areas marked "technical trails"; who knows though. I am going to try to hit up Imagination Glen (i guess just outside portage indiana) tomorrow, looks pretty good. You ever go out that way?

  22. #22
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    Nah, just got into trail riding fairly recent. Picked up an SS 29er. I used to dable a little bit but I'm getting more serious now. My buddies and I did From Lake Cook road, to Michigan Ave in the city last weekend. The south part of the DPRT is pretty sweet.

  23. #23
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    Yeah. I just started getting heavy into it this year as well. My brother rides like everyday (nice not having a job) but i really can only get out after work. I try to get up to kettle every other weekend. That is where it is at in this area. The blue loop there is so much fun compared to anything else around here, at least that i have ridden. Next time up there i am going to try the blue loop --> connector trail --> emma carlin trail and back.

    That lake cook to the city sounds like a hell of a ride. The fox river trail is nice for that kind of thing too. I rode from west dundee to geneva and back a week or two ago. Its a nice little ride but it makes me want a road bike. I just want to haul ass on those trails you know. I do a few of those rides just for the exercise, but I really enjoy riding trails and single track a lot more. No cars, less people.

    One of my buddies lives in desplaines right near the trail. People always try to develop single track down there, but flooding is a huge issue and the land is only really dry enough to ride for just a few months out of the year.

  24. #24
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    single track is bad ass. I got to exp. that on the DPRT south last weekend for the first time.

    I just wish there were more technical trails around here.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by 550

    I just wish there were more technical trails around here.

    Give yourself a big treat. Rent a house with three friends or so for a week up in Chequamegon Nat'l Forest in WI.

    http://www.bearcountrysportinggoods....tals/kamer.htm

    A little fishing and swimming and over a hundred miles of well-marked technical singletrack (and even more fire roads) like you wouldn't believe.

    http://www.cambatrails.org/

    A long drive that is so worth it. You can rent fullies if you want them at New Moon.

    http://www.newmoonski.com/

    Maybe with you, like us, it will become an annual trip to look very forward to.

    Start at the Townhall Trailhead if I were you.

  26. #26
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    Hmm... im diggin this. Thank for the tip!

  27. #27
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    a little farther that il, but still not too far- pets between kenosha and racine:
    http://www.trailville.com/wiki/WI_Ke...gs_Park_Trails

    i haven't ridden it, but heard decent things about it- i'd like to head out there sometime soon. i work in lincolnshire and usually head up to kettle, but pets wouldn't be too long of a ride.
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  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by beasterb
    ...Next time up there i am going to try the blue loop --> connector trail --> emma carlin trail and back....
    Highly recommend that ride. I've been doing it on Sundays, now I skip the Kettle's blue wart and take the green trail. Cuts ~3 miles off the ride (23 instead of 26?) and takes out a few early climbs that I pay for later in the ride. There's some brutal climbs on Ema green (walkers for me) and a couple long grinders on the connector going east

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by beasterb
    There are a few minor *legal* single track sections still in deer grove that are maintained by CAMBR (thanks volunteers). Nothing major or too exciting unfortunately....
    Combine that with the gravel trails and it's a good workout, just really boring. That's why my sons won't go with me (or Palos for the same reason).

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Z
    a little farther that il, but still not too far- pets between kenosha and racine:
    http://www.trailville.com/wiki/WI_Ke...gs_Park_Trails
    i haven't ridden it, but heard decent things about it- i'd like to head out there sometime soon. i work in lincolnshire and usually head up to kettle, but pets wouldn't be too long of a ride.
    I just want to mention that both Petrifying Springs in Kenosha and Beulah Park in Zion are basically river trails and have portions of them are in floodplains. They do not dry out as quickly as some of the other area trails. We had repeated flooding during the winter and into early summer and this left a lot of moisture in the ground in portions of both these systems. So even during recent dry periods, portions of these trails have still been soft. Unfortunately we also had a lot of Friday night rains this spring/summer and there have been enough irresponsible riders hitting the trails in Pets on the following Saturdays to have left some deeply rutted mudholes that end up collecting and holding even more water, there has also been some serious degradation of some of the hills due to people riding them when they are too wet.

    So I guess my point is please stay off these trails when it has been wet. Right now I would expect both of these trails to be too wet to ride. Give them at least a few more days to dry out, and even then expect some isolated muddy areas. Feel free to practice a little hike-a-bike through the brief muddy areas rather than leaving ruts.
    Warning: may contain sarcasm and/or crap made up in an attempt to feel important.

  31. #31
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    Just go to Kettle

  32. #32
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    Definetly tryin to hit up kettle very soon with a couple friends of mine. Hope to make a weekend out of it.

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    Is Zion a safe neighborhood to be in? Can you park your car over by the Buela Park? The reason I ask if it's safe is because it looks close to Waukegan and I don't want to get my bike stolen.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big_Carp
    Is Zion a safe neighborhood to be in? Can you park your car over by the Buela Park? The reason I ask if it's safe is because it looks close to Waukegan and I don't want to get my bike stolen.
    Yeah, you probably shouldn't leave your house.
    Beulah is fine. There was a rather heinous crime committed there a few years back, but that was more a domestic thing (as in some people are unfortunate enough to be related to a psycho).
    The park is basically located right in a neighborhood, so you can probably park on the street (there is no parking lot). You can also park in the North unit of Illinois Beach State Park or a small parking area along the Robert Mclory Bike Path (at 9th Street) and ride there.
    Since you're new to mtn biking, I just want to mention again that this is a small informal trail system and may not be what you're expecting. It definitely has singletrack, but it's not going to be fast and flowy like the Kettles or Palos.
    Warning: may contain sarcasm and/or crap made up in an attempt to feel important.

  35. #35
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    thanks for letting me know trailville^^! Great information.

  36. #36
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    hey guys, i live in lindenhurst, and i work near lake bluff- i do all sorts of riding, motocross is my main deal, but i ride road cycle up into wisconsin with a 40 mile or so loop, and i also ride the des plains trail quite a bit, my usual saturday morning gig is wadsworth down to 60 and back, and mcdonalds woods is at the back of my place so i ride there sometimes also.

    i went to kettle for the second time ever last week, and ive been down to palos once last year also. if anyone wants to meet up, i might take a half day on thursday and heat out to kettle again in the pm.

    ive got some MX friends down in indiana that also MTB and they talk good of imagination glen so i might head out there at some point, plus i wanna check out this gig in zion and kenosha.

    if anyone wants to ride, let me know- i dont mind doing road trips since ive done the moto thing for so long.

    here is last weeks ride

    http://connect.garmin.com/player/11150875

    cheers, Bruce

  37. #37
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    oh yeah, trailville- thanks for putting the time in and all your hard work!!!!!!!!

  38. #38
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    Bruce, I live in Lindenhurst too! Unfortunately I also work the worst shift in the world! :-/

    Ya know, Mcdonald Woods isn't too bad for something close to home. There is some pretty interesting stuff in there for the after work ride. I assume you have been in there before hehe

  39. #39
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    ive found some of the back loops in McDonalds, ive ridden the whole thing under 6 inches of snow too in desperation for a ride, LOL!!!

  40. #40
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    Would be nice if somehow we could convince one of the County's to let us build some single track on some of the land that they have recently conserved but not developed. I know I drive by these signs in Lake county that say this land preserved by referendum dollars.

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by RJM1
    Would be nice if somehow we could convince one of the County's to let us build some single track on some of the land that they have recently conserved but not developed. I know I drive by these signs in Lake county that say this land preserved by referendum dollars.
    The Lake County Forest Preserve District doesn't seem to have any appreciation for singletrack. They're great at preserving land and putting in wide crushed-stone-surfaced trails (the Des Plaines River Trail is really a great accomplishment), but I don't think they can even comprehend why someone would want to ride or hike on a rugged narrow natural-surfaced trail when they could be on a wide manicured trail instead. Too my knowledge, any singletrack that exist in the lake county forest preserves is technically illegal to ride or even hike. I'm not absolutely certain on this, but that has been my experience. Hopefully someone can enlighten them someday. I'm not a Lake County Resident so I'll have to leave that to others.
    Warning: may contain sarcasm and/or crap made up in an attempt to feel important.

  42. #42
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    my property tax bill always includes the lake county forest preserve in the break down. From what i can gather, we the tax payer have paid for the LCFP to acquire and maintain over 27,000 acres of land, however, no one inch is available to ATV and motorcycle riders and very little is available for the public access such as biking, hiking and horse riding, probably around less than 200 miles.

    so we the people have paid for all this land that we are not allowed to access, and we are even paying for the LCFP to police this land so we cant go on it.

  43. #43
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    I can almost 100% guarantee it isn't sanctioned. And if you ever ride the North Section of the DPRT... It is about 6 feet wide.

    The south section on the other hand... now that is pretty decent with most of it being at least non-stone pathway.

  44. #44
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    RJM1 where you live around? Lake County?

    I was riding in McDonald the other day goin up a hill (I had been stung by a bee so my focus was zero for bike riding) and some dude was commin down a hill that I was walking. I looked at him and said, don't let me get in the way of your fun. haha. I felt bad :-/

  45. #45
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    Irony comes in the form of tax paying around here ;-)

  46. #46
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    I'm actually impressed with the amount of land Lake County has acquired. They have been very aggressive at purchasing large tracts of land to be preserved for future generations. I think you'll grow to appreciate this as urban sprawl eats up all the existing open lands. And they actually do have a lot of miles of trails for biking, horseback riding, hiking, etc. If you live in lake county, you probably have a forest preserve with trails within a few miles of your house. Of course, I don't live in Lake County so I don't have to pay for it.
    My gripe is that their definition of a "trail" is limited to developed pathways of 6 to 12 feet wide, covered in either asphalt, crushed stone, wood chips, or mowed grass. It's great to have those, but a little bit of rugged natural narrow trail here and there wouldn't hurt.
    Warning: may contain sarcasm and/or crap made up in an attempt to feel important.

  47. #47
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    No doubt! Trailville where do you live around?

    And wood chip trails are horrid.

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    I'm in McHenry bur work in Round Lake. I just keep thinking that a trail for mountain biking around the outer areas of some of these land holdings would be great. I bet all the work could be done through volunteers (cylists like myself) and would not cost the county's a cent.

  49. #49
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    It would be just like Cambr basically. They maintain a bunch of trails a bit south of us.

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by RJM1
    I'm in McHenry bur work in Round Lake. I just keep thinking that a trail for mountain biking around the outer areas of some of these land holdings would be great. I bet all the work could be done through volunteers (cylists like myself) and would not cost the county's a cent.
    yeah, there's a ton of land all over where hiking/biking trails can be built. a ton of forext preserves, too- it would be great; however, not sure how it works to get the ball rolling. especially with forest preserves probably having all kinds of rules/regulations of what you can do.
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