Cycle Chicago, Road Ride, Green Bay Trail & Sheridan Road

Rather than ride the linear Green Bay Trail in both directions, I paired that trail with Sheridan Road for the sake of variety and because both routes through the beautiful North Shore suburbs from Wilmette to Highwood are attractive in their own way. Sheridan Road serves up magnificent mansions and splendid glimpses of the lake. The Green Bay Trail serves up trains and trees, residential areas and relaxed town centers. The trails complement each other perfectly in this interesting, distinctive ride.

Terrain

On the way north, a mix of street riding and on-road bike lanes over gentle hills and curves. On the way back, paved and crushed limestone paths over a flat route.

Traffic

Quite a bit on the way north; hardly any on the way back.

Access

Take the CTA’s Purple Line to Linden and bike three blocks east to the Baha’i Temple. Or, take Metra’s Union Pacific North Line to Wilmette and bike 10 blocks east to Sheridan Road and south to Linden Avenue.

By car, exit Interstate 94 at Lake Avenue. Drive east to Sheridan Road and south to the start.

Food and Drink

There’s water in many of the small parks along the way and there are restaurants in Highland Park, halfway. On the return, stores and restaurants surround most of the train stations.

Side Trip

Tour the peaceful Baha’i Temple and grounds. Rest at any of the many parks going north, including Gillson, Centennial, Maple Street, Lloyd and Tower Road to mention just those between Sheridan Road and the lake.

 

More Details

Chicagoland is blessed with so many great off-road bike trails. Nevertheless, we can’t skip Sheridan Road. This engaging route is slightly hilly and quite curvy. The traffic is slow and the lanes are wide. In fact, Sheridan Road is so bike friendly that many serious bikers train there - judging from all the spandex. Meanwhile, the sights are so awesome that you won’t have a chance to think about having sore muscles or being tired. The things to see start with the laced-domed Baha’i House of Worship, built 1912- 1953 and now on the National Register of Historic Places.

The eye candy continues northward, past hundreds of homes and through some of the city’s most affluent suburbs. You’ll appreciate them much more by bike than you ever have by automobile. Go ahead. Pick one out! By the way, it’s no accident that this ride goes north on Sheridan Road and south on the trail. A thorough analysis of satellite images revealed far fewer potholes on the east side of the street than on the west side. Plus, there’s less cross traffic on the east side since the lake will be on your right, resulting in fewer driveways and streets with which to contend.

Green Bay Trail

And now for something completely different, which is the charm of this ride. On the return, the crushed stone Green Bay Trail runs through woods that create tunnels of trees broken by lovely natural and suburban settings. The only downside is that occasionally you have to get from one of these woods to the next by a street or through a train station parking lot, but that doesn’t keep this from being an extremely popular trail.

To help keep you on track of these twists and turns, my ride log is long. Still, it’s pretty easy to ride through these wellmarked connectors and stations without getting lost. Part of the way, the trail parallels the former North Shore Line, an interurban railroad that ran between Chicago and Milwaukee until 1963. This fabled line operated the Electroliner, which represented the height of fast, comfortable interurban travel, complete with fine dining and bar cars.

Today, the train whistles you’ll hear belong to Metra, which runs through parts of the same right-of-way. The trail is smooth, so I’d recommend a road bike so you can sail along Sheridan Road.

 

Ride Log

  • 0.0 Start at Baha’i Temple, biking north.
  • 4.0 Turn left at Tower Rd. Bikes not allowed in this curvy section of Sheridan Rd.
  • 4.4 Turn right onto Old Green Bay Rd.
  • 4.7 Bear left to stay on Old Green Bay Rd.
  • 4.8 Turn right on Scott Ave, which merges with Sheridan to the left. Stay on Sheridan Rd as it zigzags north. 10.6 Turn right onto St. Johns Ave.
  • 10.8 Ignore “Bike Route” sign on right.
  • 11.1 Turn right onto Central Ave, following sign for bike route.
  • 11.2 Take first left back onto Sheridan Rd, following sign for bike route.
  • 11.4 Ignore “Bike Route” sign on left. Stay on Sheridan Rd.
  • 12.3 Turn left onto Walker Ave.
  • 12.6 Pick up Robert McClory Bike Path on sidewalk on right.
  • 12.8 Turn right on Lakeview Ave, then left on Clay Ave.
  • 13.1 Turn right onto Sheridan Rd, biking along fence.
  • 14.1 Turn around at Old Elm Rd.
  • 15.1 Turn left on Clay Ave, then right on Lakeview Ave.
  • 15.4 Turn left on Walker Ave.
  • 15.9 Follow Sheridan Rd to right.
  • 17.0 Turn right onto Central Ave.
  • 17.1 Turn left onto St. Johns Ave.
  • 17.2 Turn right onto Laurel Ave and pick up Green Bay Trail through train station parking lot.
  • 17.6 At end of parking lot, pick up trail into woods.
  • 18.8 Bike through another parking lot and then along sidewalk.
  • 19.0 Pick up trail at end of parking lot.
  • 19.3 Continue straight along road that merges into bike path.
  • 19.5 Bike through Ravinia parking lot and pick up trail at south end of lot.
  • 19.9 Follow trail along sidewalk passing train station.
  • 20.0 Cross Lake Cook Rd and pick up trail.
  • 20.9 Cross Maple Hill Rd and follow path on Old Green Bay Rd.
  • 21.4 Cross Park Ave and pick up trail on sidewalk along left of parking lot. Bear right on sidewalk. Don’t take small blacktop footpath through park on left.
  • 21.5 Cross Hazel Ave and follow bike path on Old Green Bay Rd.
  • 21.8 Cross South Ave and pick up trail to right along Old Green Bay Rd and into woods.
  • 25.1 Turn left and double back to Ivy Ct, then right on Abbotsford Rd to go around school.
  • 25.4 Turn right on Melrose Ave, left on Cumnor Rd and pick up trail to left.
  • 25.5 Turn left into parking lot, cross Kenilworth Ave at fountain and pick up trail on right.
  • 26.3 Turn left on Lake St even though sign says to go straight for Green Bay Trail. (Lake St is smoother.)
  • 27.4 Turn right on Sheridan Rd.
  • 28.0 End ride.
  • Trail map

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    44.279 km / 27.514 mi

    Total Distance

    165 m / 542 ft

    Total Ascent

    166 m / 543 ft

    Total Descent

    211 m / 693 ft

    Highest Point

    Ride type:
    Sightseeing
    Mountain biking
    Road riding
    Commuter
    Kid friendly
    Rail Trail
    Difficulty: Intermediate (Red)
    Ride Duration: 1/2 day
    Fitness Level: Medium
    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: 28.0
    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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