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  1. #1
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    Any mountain biking to do in Chicago

    We are thinking in moving to Chicago but I'm scare sh^tless of a place with out mountains..

    So the question is any decent and hilly trails near Chicago.

    thanks in advance

  2. #2
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    The great thing about Chicago mtb riding is being close to the surrounding states like Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan. Close to the city is Palos, western Springs and Oswego. Look up CAMBR.com for riding info.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by HAGASAN View Post
    The great thing about Chicago mtb riding is being close to the surrounding states like Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan. Close to the city is Palos, western Springs and Oswego. Look up CAMBR.com for riding info.
    Thanks for the advice, now we are 3hours away from Moab and have a trailhead about a mile from my house, so is going to be difficult to adapt.

  4. #4
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    Palos and Saw Waw Kee are a blast. I moved down from Wisconsin last year and am pleasantly surprised that there are some decent places to ride around the Chicago burbs. Definately check out the CAMBR website.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by BP302 View Post
    Palos and Saw Waw Kee are a blast. I moved down from Wisconsin last year and am pleasantly surprised that there are some decent places to ride around the Chicago burbs.
    very glad to hear

    Definately check out the CAMBR website.
    I'm checking right now, looks promising.

  6. #6
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    Coming from MOAB you will be mtb home sick. But we are lucky to have some great places to ride and CAMBR does an excellent job maintaining the trails. No mountains here but it is hilly in the try state area. Fear not, there is riding here.

    Where in Chicago are you locating?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by HAGASAN View Post
    Coming from MOAB you will be mtb home sick. But we are lucky to have some great places to ride and CAMBR does an excellent job maintaining the trails. No mountains here but it is hilly in the try state area. Fear not, there is riding here.
    thanks for the words of encouragement

    Where in Chicago are you locating?
    We have no idea, we are just exploring new opportunities, but have no clue about home buying prices, etc.

  8. #8
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    Palos is pretty good.

  9. #9
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    I just moved to the mountains from Northwest Indiana. Depending on where you work you might want to look toward this area. Housing is cheaper, traffic is less and there are more trails. Plus you are out of the city so it is easier to get to Michigan or down to Brown County, which is a decent hilly trail.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by MulletSlayer View Post
    I just moved to the mountains from Northwest Indiana. Depending on where you work you might want to look toward this area. Housing is cheaper, traffic is less and there are more trails. Plus you are out of the city so it is easier to get to Michigan or down to Brown County, which is a decent hilly trail.
    We want to stay close to the university hospital (will work there) so we can make the commutes shorter if possible, but all depends on housing prices I guess

  11. #11
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    I just moved to Chicago area from Wisconsin (and previously Michigan) last summer. Palos is decent for a weekday ride, but I still make the trip to Kettles or Blue Mounds in Wisconsin and to Yankee or Custer in Michigan on the weekends to get some nicer trails. The reality is there is just not many hills in this area. But hey, you are only 15 hours from Colorado's front range...

  12. #12
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    This place sucks, I'm sorry to hear you have to move here. Palos is a flat dog track, the fact that the locals think it's OK is proof just how sad the local MTB scene is. Road riding is a dangerous activity here, my roadie buddies are giving up riding due to all the cell phone use while driving, still allowed under state law. I leave the state for mountain biking. The best local riding is the Kettle Moraine in Wisconsin, ~1.5hrs drive from NW suburbs. It's 10 hours drive to Chequamegon National Forest or Pisgh, they as good as it gets around here. Brown County, IN is ~6 hours drive, not bad for living in Chicagoland.

    Kettle Moraine South - Wisconsin DNR

    If you can avoid the state of Ill, do it. Ill is so far in the hole with no hope of fixing things. Taxes just doubled and not a single state employee was laid off, they just increased deficit spending. State pension systems is $80B in arrears with a ~$50B annual budget and ~$8B in un-paid bills. Local state university cost $32,000 per year with no help to working parents, they expect you to saddle your kid with $100K in loans for their degree.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by pursuiter View Post
    This place sucks, I'm sorry to hear you have to move here. Palos is a flat dog track, the fact that the locals think it's OK is proof just how sad the local MTB scene is.
    I would agree that Palos is not a place to enjoy fast downhill decents or slow, technical terrain if you have a full suspension bike with lots of travel.

    The people that love Palos usually are the XC riders that enjoy fast, flowing singletrack. I compete in the WORS XC race series so Palos is the perfect training ground for that. One thing that Chicagoland has is tons of forest preserves with limestone and paved trails. This is nice for people that want to get out and just ride to exercise. I would guess that most people coming here from the West will be dissappointed with our flat land when it comes to mountain biking unless fast, flowing singletrack on is up their alley.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by HAGASAN View Post
    The great thing about Chicago mtb riding is being close to the surrounding states like Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan. Close to the city is Palos, western Springs and Oswego. Look up CAMBR.com for riding info.
    I grew up in Western Springs! I presume the riding takes place in the Bemis forest preserve across Ogden Ave? Can't really think of any place else around there that would work for riding. I used to go tear up the streets of rich white suburbia on my old BMX bike tho back in the day!

    If you do go to WS, be sure to check out Keirshbaums bakery afterward. Best damn cookies / cake in the world. If you want ice cream, go to Oberweis dairy just down the street. Can't loose! There are days I do miss living there...
    -Eric
    Keeping the hardtail dream alive, one ride at a time.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by pursuiter View Post
    This place sucks, I'm sorry to hear you have to move here. Palos is a flat dog track, the fact that the locals think it's OK is proof just how sad the local MTB scene is. Road riding is a dangerous activity here, my roadie buddies are giving up riding due to all the cell phone use while driving, still allowed under state law. I leave the state for mountain biking. The best local riding is the Kettle Moraine in Wisconsin, ~1.5hrs drive from NW suburbs. It's 10 hours drive to Chequamegon National Forest or Pisgh, they as good as it gets around here. Brown County, IN is ~6 hours drive, not bad for living in Chicagoland.

    Kettle Moraine South - Wisconsin DNR

    If you can avoid the state of Ill, do it. Ill is so far in the hole with no hope of fixing things. Taxes just doubled and not a single state employee was laid off, they just increased deficit spending. State pension systems is $80B in arrears with a ~$50B annual budget and ~$8B in un-paid bills. Local state university cost $32,000 per year with no help to working parents, they expect you to saddle your kid with $100K in loans for their degree.
    Retro-Grouch you certainly ARE. I have no love for the state of IL, and plan to get the hell out of here in the future, but for what is available to us in geographc terms, I'd say the Palos system is pretty damn good. I've ridden there for over 20 years and I still love it. Old and grouchy must mean you are one of the people that drive too slow in the fast lane...Brown County is a 4 hour drive, and Cheq is more like 6 or 7. Kettle is an awesome option, but you aren't likely going to make the 1-1/2 hour trip after work on a weekday, so Palos is probably gonna be your best option.

    Compared to Moab, I'm sure we haven't got $hit, but if you love to bike, you can find dirt and be happy.

  16. #16
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    ^ Well said Palos is the only type of mnt bike action around the area on a weekday after work. If you want to ride on nicer trails then leave it for the weekend and drive a few hours up north.

  17. #17
    discombobulated SuperModerator
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    Quote Originally Posted by T1TO View Post
    ^ Well said Palos is the only type of mnt bike action around the area on a weekday after work. If you want to ride on nicer trails then leave it for the weekend and drive a few hours up north.
    I agree.... Thing is, so many "locals" piss on Palos, yet feel its reasonable to drive their polluting cars 2 hours each way.... If its with in reach, kettle is awesome. But to be so grouchy because its geographically challenged for thousands of cyclists doesnt make sense..
    CDT

  18. #18
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    I just gave up having premiere year round riding and a mountain in my backyard in Arizona for the past 6 years to move back to Chicago and yes, there isn't any elevation here, but for local options, Palos and Saw Kee Wee are great ways to get your fill of dirt for living in a major metropolis.

    In the fall when I moved back I got out to Palos 6 or 7 times before the weather went bad and rode both my 29er SS hard tail and my 5.5" 26" AM bike and had equally fun times on both. Now just in the last week since the weather has shaped up I have been out to Saw Kee Wee twice and I will say that CAMBR has done a hell of a job with the place. Yes, it's a short 8 miles, but it's a really fun and somewhat challenging place to ride on a SS bike.

    There are also numerous little pieces of hidden single track scattered throughout the preserves that are close to the city They may only be 4-5 miles here, and 7-8 miles there, and while not "official" they make for a quick escape if you just need to ride.

    The Garden Jumps are great in the summer if you want some air time in the city, and in the winter Ray's MKE is 70 minutes from the northern burbs and also a lot of fun no matter what bike you take up there. And Kettle Moraine is a good weekend destination.

    Michigan has some great single track within 3 hours of Chicago like Fort Custer and Yankee Springs, as well as Indiana.

    For longer road trips, In 6 hours you can be at Traverse City which is beautiful and has the Vasa Single Track or in Boyne Highlands, which has lift assisted DH in the summer (not much elevation or tech, but it's actually better than the only lift assist we had in Arizona) and within 8 hours you can be in Copper Harbor Michigan, which has some great epic rides as well as downhill.

    Also if you go 15 hours either direction you can hit either all the east coast bike parks, or all the Colorado bike parks, so in my book it just makes for a better central launch point.

  19. #19
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    Copper Harbor is worth every minute and every dollar you spend getting there. Best riding in the midwest hands down imo
    -Eric
    Keeping the hardtail dream alive, one ride at a time.

  20. #20
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    I'm in the midwest & someday would like to get out west......

    It boggles my mind to think of moving from the mountains to this area.....blah.... LOL.

    Palos is Ok for what it is, usually give it a go if we're up in the area for work, but wouldn't travel too far to get to it. Luckily I'm close to Brown County so that's my local trail.

    PS, your sig is spelled wrong...
    Riding.....

  21. #21
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    i grew up i hickory hills with palos singletrack a 5 minute ride down 87th st to hidden pond (no one cared which trails were legal back then). last summer i moved to Mesa, AZ and have already done more riding in the past 9 months that i did in the past 9 years in IL. at first i thought i would miss the lush greenery that the IL forests provided during the short summer. that thought lasts about 15 minutes into your first ride.
    Last edited by longhairmike; 03-17-2012 at 01:57 PM.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by patineto View Post
    We are thinking in moving to Chicago but I'm scare sh^tless of a place with out mountains..

    So the question is any decent and hilly trails near Chicago.

    thanks in advance
    I live in the Chicago area, if you live somewhere with mountains your idea of decent trails will be vastly different than most of the people that live here. Your idea of a boring trial is probably still 10x better than any of the trails here. There are a few ok spots for trials, dirt jumping, and street, and Palos/SWK has excellent XC riding. With that being said, CAMBR does an excellent job with the terrain they have to work with, and I still frequently drive 45min to an hour to get to Palos.

    Disclaimer: I don't plan on staying here long term, the idea of living in weekend driving distance of somewhere like winter park and near valmont bike park is too appealing.

    Also, traffic sucks... check out google maps traffic during rush hour, pretty much everything is stopped (red), and paying 1.90 for a toll every few miles allows you the opportunity to go 0-5mph on a highway that is continuously under construction. Also, gas is like 4.80 for regular in the city right now, and cook county has about a 10% sales tax. There are plenty of awesome places to eat though, and lots of bars / clubs in Chicago.
    Last edited by kitejumping; 03-22-2012 at 11:37 PM.

  23. #23
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    If you have ever ridden a bike out west, Chicago area will be a huge disappointment for you. Brown County Indiana is the best thing locally, and that is still 4-5 hours away. I have since ridden out west a few times and was blown away at what the locals thought was a beginner or moderate trail. Avoid this area if you can.

    Not to mention the city had about 70 shootings in the past 5 days....we are on track to surpass our "most homicides in a year" record.

  24. #24
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    If you move here, stay out of englewood.

  25. #25
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    fat bike the beaches, that really was all I found worth wild when I was in chicago last (for a week). Best part, getting on the bike path filled with sand and flinging that crap in every direction as you get up to speed. Loads of pissed off people lol. The Garden was fun too, but that is not mtbing.

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