Cycle Chicago, Sightseeing Ride, West Branch DuPage River Trail

Running through the 1,367-acre Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville, this easy, pleasant bike ride offers bicyclists a broad variety of plants and scenery, a bit of history and plenty of additional things to enjoy, including colorful flowers, inviting picnic sites, camping, fishing, canoeing, birding, tubing (in the winter), archery, interpretive signage, an off-leash dog area (must have a permit) and, of course, hiking.

Terrain

Gently rolling crushed limestone path.

Access 

The trailhead is not readily accessible by transit.

By car, exit Interstate 88 at Route 59 going north. Turn right on Butterfield Road. From the intersection of Butterfield and Batavia roads go east one block to Manning Avenue, take the first right onto Warren Avenue and the first right, again, onto Stafford Place. Park on the left.

 

More Details

A treasure trove of grasslands, wetlands and wooded areas, the well-maintained Blackwell Forest Preserve is particularly tranquil and refreshing. Wide paths wind around quiet nooks and pleasant open areas. The first one-quarter, or so, of the well-marked ride is shaded by a canopy of trees while the remainder is primarily open prairie, savannah and marsh. When the Wisconsin Glacier retreated starting 15,000 years ago, it left behind lakes and streams, hills and valleys that are visible around DuPage County.

One rare glacial deposit of sand and gravel called a kame is found in the Blackwell Forest Preserve. It’s a large one, covering 11 acres. The most attractive and pristine site in the preserve is the McKee Marsh about midway through the ride. This restored wetland is a regular stopover for migratory birds, which can be observed from two bird blinds. A trail around the marsh features a couple of lookout decks and several interpretive signs describing the rich history and ecological significance of the site’s flora and fauna.

Bike trails connect this preserve with other nearby parks and prairies. The trailhead of this ride is part of the Illinois Prairie Path and the Regional Trail, the latter of which cuts north-south through this preserve and connects with four other preserves. Once you get to know this ride, you’ll want to return again and again, and at different times of the year.

 

Ride Log

  • 0.0 Start at the northeast corner of Butterfield and Batavia Roads. Take the bike path a few yards east going northeast parallel to Butterfield Rd. 400 ft Cross bridge over the West Branch of DuPage River.
  • 0.6 Ride through the Winfield Rd Aurora Branch parking area.
  • 0.7 Turn left onto the Blackwell Forest Preserve Trail along Winfield Rd.
  • 0.7 Cross Butterfield Rd and turn left, following sign for Blackwell Regional Trail.
  • 1.2 Approach parking area and follow the bike path to the left on the sidewalk.
  • 1.3 Cross two roads in quick succession and pick up the bike path as it curves to the left.
  • 1.4 Bear right at intersection with another bike path.
  • 2.3 Bear left, staying on wide crushed limestone bike path.
  • 2.4 Cross small bridge.
  • 3.0 Cross Mack Rd. Be careful as traffic will not stop.
  • 3.3 Turn right at T.
  • 4.5 Bear left, staying on the main bike path.
  • 4.6 Bear left, again, staying on main bike path.
  • 4.9 Lookout deck on short path to the left.
  • 5.3 Continue straight.
  • 5.4 Lookout deck on short path to the left.
  • 5.5 Continue straight.
  • 5.6 Turn right, following sign for Regional Trail to Herrick Lake and Danada preserves.
  • 5.9 Cross Mack Rd. Be careful as traffic will not stop.
  • 7.0 Sharp turn to right.
  • 7.5 Continue around small lake, not on the path to the right that heads toward Butterfield Rd.
  • 7.7 Cross two roads in parking area, ride on sidewalk for a few yards and turn right, back onto bike path.
  • 8.2 Turn right and Cross Butterfield Rd at Winfield Rd.
  • 8.3 Turn right and ride through Winfield Rd Aurora Branch parking area.
  • 8.4 Continue straight.
  • 8.8 Cross small bridge.
  • 8.9 End ride.
  • Trail map

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    14.552 km / 9.042 mi

    Total Distance

    129 m / 422 ft

    Total Ascent

    129 m / 422 ft

    Total Descent

    227 m / 746 ft

    Highest Point

    Ride type:
    Sightseeing
    Mountain biking
    Road riding
    Commuter
    Kid friendly
    Rail Trail
    Difficulty: Beginner (Green)
    Ride Duration: <1 hr
    Fitness Level: Low
    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: 15.0
    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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