One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to bike the North Branch Trail from Winnetka to Chicago. The trail is adequately wide, well-maintained, and has some wonderful scenery along the way. There are just a few large streets to cross.
At the south end, it starts in Chicago's Edgebrook neighborhood at Devon and Caldwell. It winds along the north branch of the Chicago River (hence the trail name) through forest preserves, meadows, suburbs, and past golf courses. It winds up at the Chicago Botanic Gardens in Glencoe.
The trail is 20 miles long and completely paved. You will occasionally see parallel dirt path horse trails, and if you're lucky, you might even some a horse and rider cantering along. If you are on the trail very early or late, you'll see foraging deer, and just once, I saw a wary coyote cross the trial.
If you are heading northward, you'll end up at the Chicago Botanic Gardens in Glencoe where you can park your bike for free and avoid the high parking costs. Spend a few glorious hours walking around the gardens and you'll feel re-energized and ready to hop back on the bike and head home on the North Branch Trail.
For more information and to view an interactive map, please go to: North Branch Trail
To read about a parallel trail farther east, please go to: Green Bay Trail
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