Cycle Chicago, Sightseeing Ride, Millennium Trail & Lakewood Forest Preserve

This bike ride meanders from Volo in the northwest through Singing Hills Forest Preserve in Round Lake and Lakewood Forest Preserve in Wauconda to Mundelein in the southeast. It encompasses broad prairies, shady forests and curvy subdivisions as well as straight highways. The variety is pleasant but you’ll need extra sunscreen since most of the ride is open. Plans call for tripling the length of the Millennium Trail, primarily northward. To the east, it currently leads to the North Shore Bike Path, which connects with many other trails.

Terrain

This moderately hilly trail is surfaced with crushed limestone but many sections of the path are slippery and bumpy. There is a short paved section at each end of the ride.

Traffic

Only a few cross streets, most of which are small.

Access

This ride is not readily accessible by transit. By car, take Interstate 90 to Highway 53 and Highway 53 Extension going north. After 8.5 miles, take Lake Cook Road left (west) about half a mile to Rand Road and turn right. After 1.5 miles, turn right on Quentin Road. After 3.7 miles turn left on Old McHenry Road. After 0.6 miles turn right on Fairfield Road. The entrance to Lakewood Forest Preserve bike trailhead is 3.3 miles on the right.

Food and Drink

There’s drinking water available in the forest preserves but (refreshingly) this ride passes no convenience stores or fast food restaurants. You can get a drink, however, at the Country Bumpkin Garden Center at Gilmer Road and Hawley Street, 20.2 miles in.

Side Trip

Visit the attractive Lake County Discovery Museum, about a mile west from the trailhead, across Fairfield Road. It covers Lake County’s history and natural history.

 

More Details

Although far from downtown Chicago, this long and winding ride does not take you through the countryside or bucolic settings. Instead, much of it runs through suburban subdivisions, some of which will be filling in with tract housing as you ride by. Other parts of the bike ride parallel busy highways. Nevertheless, the trail has several attractive features.

It passes several small lakes but nary a strip mall. The trail is not crowded, and vehicular traffic is light throughout. And the diverse scenery and wide range of sights will keep you engaged. The wide but bumpy trail will keep you alert, as well. Parts of the crushed limestone path are sandy, which makes them prone to slippage and washouts. Be careful or you’ll go slip sliding away, especially on one of the many tight turns. This is fat-tire terrain. The relatively short paved sections on each end of the ride (north of Singing Hills Forest Preserve and east of the intersection of Highway 176 and Hawley Street) will provide a welcome break from the bumps and give you the feeling that you’re riding on glass.

One of the bike ride’s main attractions is the lovely Lakewood Forest Preserve at the start and end. With an incredible 2,708 acres, this is Lake County’s largest forest preserve. Early settlers farmed the land; their successors planted orchards and built a dairy ranch. The Lake County Forest Preserve District began acquiring land here in 1968 and continues to do so to this day. Although biking is not permitted on the forest preserve’s paths, it is allowed on the section of the Millennium Trail that passes through a magnificently wooded and gently hilly portion of the forest preserve.

After your bike ride, take time to hike around the wellkept forest preserve and then visit the attractive Lake County Discovery Museum inside the preserve.It covers the history and natural history of Lake County in a fun learning environment with plenty of interactive exhibits. The museum includes the Curt Teich Postcard Archives, the world’s largest public collection of post cards and related materials, with more than 365,000 postcards.

 

Ride Log

  • 0.0 Start in the parking lot of the winter sports area and bike east along the paved sidewalk, passing restrooms on your right.
  • 0.1 Trail turns to crushed limestone. Turn left at the map.
  • 0.2 Go through underpass for Fairfield Rd.
  • 0.4 Bear right following sign for Millennium Trail North.
  • 0.5 Cross Wauconda Rd (Hwy 176).
  • 1.1 Bear right to stay on the main trail.
  • 2.2 Bike straight through the trail crossing.
  • 2.3 Cross Bonner Rd at light and follow trail to the left.
  • 2.9 Cross Sutton Rd, the first of several suburban roads.
  • 5.5 Bike straight through trail intersection.
  • 5.6 Cross Gilmer Rd and follow crushed limestone path to the left, not the paved path to the right.
  • 7.2 As you approach the large barn in Singing Hills Forest Preserve, turn left before the water fountain and restrooms. Go around the parking lot clockwise.
  • 7.4 Bear left and cross Fish Lake Rd onto paved trail.
  • 8.7 Turn around at Hwy 60 and return.
  • 10.0 Cross Fish Lake Rd and bear right on the crushed limestone path around the parking lot.
  • 10.2 Turn right at T with water fountain and restrooms on left.
  • 11.9 Bear right to cross Gilmer Rd and follow trail to the right.
  • 16.3 Bike straight through trail intersection.
  • 17.1 Bear left at triangular intersection and bike through underpass for Fairfield Rd.
  • 17.3 Your parking lot is on right. Return to your car or keep riding through triangle intersection for more biking.
  • 17.6 Turn right onto the One Mile Loop. 18.0 Bear left to stay on the One Mile Loop.
  • 18.1 Turn right to follow main trail east.
  • 18.7 Bear left at Y.
  • 19.6 End of Millennium Trail but continue on paved Millennium Path West. 20.2 Cross Gilmer Rd and note Country Bumpkin Garden Center. It sells cold drinks.
  • 21.3 Turn around at Chevy Chase Rd. 23.0 Back to sandy, crushed limestone Millennium Trail.
  • 24.0 Turn right at trail intersection.
  • 24.4 Turn right at T to finish One Mile Loop that you started earlier.
  • 24.9 Turn right at T.
  • 25.2 Turn left up the incline to return to parking lot.
  • 25.4 End ride in lot.
  • Trail map

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    37.855 km / 23.522 mi

    Total Distance

    208 m / 682 ft

    Total Ascent

    208 m / 682 ft

    Total Descent

    270 m / 885 ft

    Highest Point

    Ride type:
    Sightseeing
    Mountain biking
    Road riding
    Commuter
    Kid friendly
    Rail Trail
    Difficulty: Advanced (Black)
    Ride Duration: 1/2 day
    Fitness Level: High
    Terrain:
    Shared Bike Path - Paved
    Shared Bike Path - Dirt
    On-Road Bike Lane
    On-Road
    Off-Road - Fire Trail
    Off-Road - Rail Trail
    Off-Road - Single Track
    Off-Road - Downhill
    Mobile Coverage: Excellent
    Estimated Distance: 25.4
    Services:
    Water
    Food
    First Aid
    Toilets
    Bike hire facilities
    Carparking
    Bike servicing
    Accessible by bike
    Accessible by car
    Accessible by public transport
    Accessible by shuttle / uber

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