North Shore Bike Path

Cycle Chicago, Sightseeing Ride, North Shore Bike Path

Starting in Lake Bluff and ending in Mundelein, this easy ride connects with no fewer than six other bike trails. Riding this path will help you flesh out your understanding of bike trails north and northwest of Chicago. It will also inspire you to explore these other trails, perhaps even to connect them in new, imaginative ways. Overall, the ride is suburban and lightly wooded. The trees provide some shade and protection from the wind.

 

Terrain

The ride is flat and the surface alternates between crushed limestone and a bumpy paved path.

Traffic

A lot of cross traffic, with some busy roads. You’ll need a bit of patience to deal with the traffic, but it’s worth it.

Access

Take Metra’s Union Pacific North Line to Lake Bluff. Go west on Scranton Avenue to Green Bay Road, south to Center Avenue and east to Mawman Avenue. Or, take Robert McClory Trail (east of the Lake Bluff station) south 800 feet to the first trail intersection where the North Shore Bike Path merges in from the right. Ride that path back north and west and take a left after 1,000 feet at the first intersection to find trailhead at Center and Mawman avenues.

By car, park at Center and Mawman avenues.

Food and Drink

You’ll find food and drink along the way. Try Dairy Dream right on the path near the western end of the ride for a well-deserved treat.

Side Trip

Stop on the way out or back at Lambs Farm, a premier non-profit that gives adults with developmental disabilities the chance to learn vocational skills and lead fulfilling lives.

 

More Details

This is not one of the most scenic bike rides in the area but it’s one of the most important because it runs eastwest and connects with six north-south trails, some of which are major trails (see links). That makes this path potentially very useful. On its own, this path offers a straightforward ride that’s hardly ever crowded with bikers or joggers. There are many pleasant stretches with trees and bushes, flowers and grass, and plenty to see along the way. But since it parallels Highway 176 you’ll encounter traffic, noise and utility lines much of the way.

Take the road crossings, of which there are more than a dozen, seriously since the cross traffic is usually not required to stop. Don’t try to turn this path into a speedway. The east and west ends of the ride are the most attractive. West of Waukegan Road, where the trail alternates between paved and crushed stone, there are more crossings.

Be careful at two particularly ugly ones at Milwaukee and Butterfield roads where you have to go north to Highway 176, cross at the light and return to the path. Use the button for the pedestrian crossing signal and walk your bike across these two intersections. Do the entire ride in order to get a glimpse of the beauty of the Mundelein Seminary, Carmel Catholic High School and Marytown at the western end.

The grounds at Mundelein are so opulent that the Vatican was reported to have considered relocating there during World War II. Marytown, maintained by Franciscan Friars, is the National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe. Its gift shop/bookstore west of Butterfield Road is open seven days a week.

About midway through the trail is Lambs Farm, an organization that gives adults with developmental disabilities the chance to learn vocational skills. Founded in 1961, Lambs Farm has grown from a small pet shop in Chicago into this 72-acre campus that includes a restaurant, country store, petting zoo, amusement park and, yes, a pet shop.

Although you’ll find lambs at the petting zoo, the place takes its name from John 21:15, in which Jesus tells Peter to “Feed my lambs.” This is a great place to stop for a meal or break.

 

Ride Log

  • 0.0 At Mawman Ave and Center Ave, find the trailhead at northeast corner of the intersection where the sign says “Pedestrian Path.” Yes, that’s the bike trail. 400 ft Turn left at T.
  • 0.2 Continue straight, not up the incline on the right leading to Green Bay Rd.
  • 0.4 Bike path merges from right.
  • 0.7 Bike path merges from left.
  • 0.8 Pair of stop signs. Take care here and at all the rest of the stop signs; cross traffic does not have to stop.
  • 0.8 Skokie River Preserve Open Lands on left.
  • 1.0 Skokie Valley Bikeway on left.
  • 1.0 Careful crossing railroad tracks.
  • 1.1 Cross Skokie Hwy.
  • 1.6 Cross Waukegan Rd.
  • 2.0 Middlefork Forest Preserve bike trail on left.
  • 2.4 First of two small bridges that are good spots for spotting trains.
  • 3.0 Cross Bradley Rd.
  • 3.2 Cross entrance to Lambs Farm.
  • 3.3 Pass under Interstate 94.
  • 3.5 Old School Forest Preserve Bike Path on left.
  • 4.0 Cross St. Mary’s Rd.
  • 4.4 Bear right and up to bridge, following sign for Libertyville. Cross Des Plaines River, noting the bike trail below along the eastern bank.
  • 4.6 Admire wind turbine on left.
  • 5.5 Turn right, cross Milwaukee Ave at Hwy 176 using the button for pedestrians. Then turn left and return to bike path.
  • 6.6 Turn right, cross Butterfield Rd at Hwy 176 using the button for pedestrians. Then turn left and return to bike trail.
  • 6.8 Dairy Dream on right, very close to trail.
  • 7.5 Carmel Catholic High School.
  • 7.8 Trail ends abruptly at Brice Ave. Turn around and return.
  • 8.7 Last chance for Dairy Dream.
  • 8.9 Cross Butterfield Rd at Hwy 176, as before.
  • 9.9 Cross Milwaukee Ave at Hwy 176, as before.
  • 11.0 Cross Des Plaines River.
  • 11.1 After bridge, bear left, following sign for Lake Bluff.
  • 14.8 Continue straight (not left for Green Bay Rd).
  • 15.5 Turn right (fence will be on your left) and end ride.
  • Trail map

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    24.491 km / 15.218 mi

    Total Distance

    119 m / 390 ft

    Total Ascent

    119 m / 391 ft

    Total Descent

    227 m / 746 ft

    Highest Point

    Ride type:
    Sightseeing
    Mountain biking
    Road riding
    Commuter
    Kid friendly
    Rail Trail
    Gravel
    Various
    Difficulty: Intermediate (Red)
    Ride Duration: <1 hr
    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: Limited
    Estimated Distance: 15.5
    Services:
    Water
    Food
    First Aid
    Toilets
    Bike hire
    Carparking
    Bike servicing
    Accessible by bike
    Accessible by car
    Accessible by public transport
    Accessible by shuttle / uber

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