Palos Forest Preserve Trail

CYCLE CHICAGO, MOUNTAIN BIKE RIDE, PALOS FOREST PRESERVE TRAIL Palos Forest Preserve in Willow Springs offers the best mountain bike paths in Chicagoland. It also offers miles of wide, flat multi-use paths, so this bike ride combines the two types of paths. Be forewarned that the six-mile mountain biking section of this bike ride is not for beginners. For an introduction to mountain biking see the Arie Crown Trail Ride. Here you will find deep gullies, steep hills, and dirt trails studded with rocks and roots. If that’s not your thing, the ride is structured so you can skip the mountain bike portion. The multi-use trails come in a variety of surfaces: dirt, grass, gravel, crushed limestone and pavement. Watch out for grooves and ruts. Hills on the multi-use trails are gradual so your legs won’t burn but your heart rate will increase a bit. The rugged mountain bike trails are more challenging. You will have to keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes upon the road. Be prepared to dismount or even carry your bike. Wear a helmet, gloves and goggles and bring a compass, spare inner tube and cell phone because you could get lost if you veer onto a side path. What makes biking in this preserve tricky is the fact that what appears to be a major trail on the official map often switches from a wide multi-use trail to a narrow mountain bike path. If you want to play it safe, stick to this route for your first visit. Two-thirds of it runs over crushed limestone multi-use trails and one-third over a craggy mountain bike trail. The latter is a loop so if you’d rather skip the mountain biking just omit the portion of the ride from 1.3 miles to 7.2 miles out. Always yield to bikers coming downhill and respect the trail-use rules, which tend to be pronounced here because some mountain bikers like to blaze new trails. Park officials will ticket bicyclists riding on unapproved paths. One sign here reads, “Closed when wet. If you leave an imprint, turn around. Erosion leads to trail closures.” That’s no idle threat as dozens of miles of trail in this preserve have been closed. More pleasant is a sign along the wide, shaded Beige Trail that reads, “I’m an old country lane. Now I’ve been officially vacated and closed. (I never liked automobiles anyway!) I invite you to walk, as folks have walked for generations. Please be friendly with my trees, flowers and wild creatures.” FOOD AND DRINK None except for drinking water in the nature center. ACCESS Exit Interstate 55 at La Grange Road going south. Turn right at 95th Avenue and left on Willow Springs Road (also known as Flavin Road and 104th Avenue). After about half a mile, turn right following the sign for the Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center at 9901 Willow Springs Road.
Ride type:
Mountain biking
Road riding
Kid friendly
Rail Trail
Difficulty: Intermediate (Red)
Ride Duration: 1-2 hrs
Fitness Level: High
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): 22.5
First Aid
Bike hire facilities
Bike servicing
Accessible by bike
Accessible by car
Accessible by public transport
Accessible by shuttle / uber
Loading comments...