North Branch Trail to Botanic Garden

CYCLE CHICAGO, SIGHTSEEING RIDE, NORTH BRANCH TRAIL TO BOTANIC GARDENS This is one of the region’s most popular bike rides. Both the journey and destination pay off! Even if you don’t make it all the way to the Botanic Garden, you’ll enjoy trying given all the forests and meadows, sights and sounds, vistas and waterways along this long corridor as it runs from Chicago to Glencoe, passing through Edgebrook, Morton Grove, Northfield and Winnetka. Incredibly, this trail has a dense, remote feel despite its proximity to the city and the fact that it passes through heavily developed suburbs. If such a long ride seems intimidating, note the many potential starting points. A highlight of the ride is Skokie Lagoons, a sevenmile series of interconnected lakes that feed the North Branch of the Chicago River. A 4.4-mile trail encircles the lakes, which offer great fishing and boating, with canoes and kayaks available for rent right beside the trail 8.2 miles into the ride. The other highlight is the glorious 385-acre Botanic Garden. Admission is free, but arriving by bike via the bike trail/service road will save you at least $20 in parking. Don’t be put off by the notion of a service road. In fact, the road is the biking entrance and affords stunning views of the Waterfall and Japanese Gardens looking west. Plan extra time to visit the garden’s grounds and exhibits or to lunch at the Garden Café. A tram tour might be just the ticket to rest your legs for the ride back to Linne Woods. The trail passes through lovely heavily wooded forests that hide the nearby roads and buildings. A couple of highway overpasses provide the only elevation. In the fall, the thick foliage is colorful but results in wet leaves on the pavement that can make the ride slippery. If you’re looking for mountain bike trails and are willing to risk getting lost and don’t mind backtracking for washouts and floods, try any of the several unpaved paths that crisscross the trail. FOOD AND DRINK Plenty of water in the parks and several eateries and convenience stores along the way. ACCESS Take the CTA Yellow Line to Dempster and bike west about a mile. Shortly after Cale Avenue/Lake Street, turn right into Linne Woods and bike to the map at the western edge of the parking lot. Or, the Pace #250 Dempster bus could drop you off at Linne Woods. Metra also serves the area. Take the Milwaukee District North Line to Morton Grove and bike two blocks north to the start. By car, exit Interstate 94 at Dempster Street goingwest. After a little less than one mile, turn north into Linne Woods and find map at western edge of the lot.
Ride type:
Mountain biking
Road riding
Kid friendly
Rail Trail
Difficulty: Intermediate (Red)
Ride Duration: Full day
Fitness Level: Medium
Shared Bike Path - Paved
Shared Bike Path - Dirt
On-Road Bike Lane
Off-Road - Fire Trail
Off-Road - Rail Trail
Off-Road - Single Track
Off-Road - Downhill
Estimated Distance (Kms): 56.0
First Aid
Bike hire facilities
Bike servicing
Accessible by bike
Accessible by car
Accessible by public transport
Accessible by shuttle / uber
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