Cycle Chicago, Sightseeing Ride, Morton Arboretum Ride
Most people do not think of the Morton Arboretum in terms of bicycling, but this glorious outdoor museum in Lisle is one of Chicagoland’s most inviting and interesting places to bike. More than nine miles of quiet roads are open for biking year round. You’ll want to stop along the way to learn about trees and shrubs, and to explore gardens and a prairie.
Smooth pavement over a surprisingly hilly landscape.
Biking is allowed only on the main road, where you’ll find very little traffic during the week and significant traffic on summer weekends. The bike lane is not striped, but there are bike decals on the road to remind drivers to share the road. Also, the main road is oneway and traffic is limited to 20 mile per hour, so this is a safe place to bike, even for kids.
Take Metra’s Burlington Northern Santa Fe Line to Lisle and bike about one mile north on Highway 53 (which does not have a bike lane). By car, exit Interstate 88 northbound at Highway 53. The entrance is on the right after half a mile.
Food and Drink
Water along the trails; restaurant and café in the Visitor Center.
At the Morton Arboretum, you will find more than 4,000 types of plants from around the world spread over 1,700 gorgeous, peaceful acres. Founded in 1922 by Morton Salt magnate Joy Morton, the arboretum’s mission is to collect and study trees, shrubs and other plants; to display them across naturally beautiful landscapes for visitors to study and enjoy; and to learn how to grow them in ways that enhance the environment.
A continuous Main Route through the East and West sides of the well-manicured grounds makes it easy to bike through all of the arboretum’s diverse areas, from Bulb Meadow to Hemlock Hill. Shortcuts and loops are open to bicyclists for anyone who wants to go beyond this ride. Several sites and visitor stations along the way offer places to lock up your bike so you can explore by foot. Short hikes are worthwhile, as the interpretive signage throughout the park is attractive, informative and entertaining - but difficult to read while zipping by on a bike!
Check out the hedge collection, children’s garden and maze. Temporary art and sculpture exhibits often complement the natural splendors. There are a few buildings, roads and utility lines visible in the distance as you bike, but they are partially hidden and hardly audible so they will not intrude upon your enjoyment of these rustic surroundings. This oasis of wonderfully tended trees and sculpted landscapes is open everyday. For hours, admission prices, membership information, to plan a visit and to become familiar with the arboretum’s bicycling guidelines, visit www.mortonarb.org.
The arboretum is especially accommodating to bicyclists. For example, on select summer days, either the East Side or West Side is closed to vehicular traffic after 5:30 p.m. and during weekends from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. The arboretum’s commitment to bicycling extends beyond welcoming visitors on bikes. Its Bike Patrol, a group of trained volunteers, periodically patrol the grounds to assist cyclists and monitor compliance with biking guidelines. A very pleasant aspect of biking in the arboretum is that drivers are especially polite and considerate of bicyclists. It must be the serene setting. Let’s plant more trees around the city and suburbs to transplant this tranquility to the entire region!
12.146 km / 7.547 mi
146 m / 479 ft
146 m / 480 ft
237 m / 778 ft