Cycle Chicago, Road Ride, Green Bay Trail & Sheridan Road
Rather than ride the linear Green Bay Trail in both directions, I paired that trail with Sheridan Road for the sake of variety and because both routes through the beautiful North Shore suburbs from Wilmette to Highwood are attractive in their own way. Sheridan Road serves up magnificent mansions and splendid glimpses of the lake. The Green Bay Trail serves up trains and trees, residential areas and relaxed town centers. The trails complement each other perfectly in this interesting, distinctive ride.
On the way north, a mix of street riding and on-road bike lanes over gentle hills and curves. On the way back, paved and crushed limestone paths over a flat route.
Quite a bit on the way north; hardly any on the way back.
Take the CTA’s Purple Line to Linden and bike three blocks east to the Baha’i Temple. Or, take Metra’s Union Pacific North Line to Wilmette and bike 10 blocks east to Sheridan Road and south to Linden Avenue.
By car, exit Interstate 94 at Lake Avenue. Drive east to Sheridan Road and south to the start.
Food and Drink
There’s water in many of the small parks along the way and there are restaurants in Highland Park, halfway. On the return, stores and restaurants surround most of the train stations.
Tour the peaceful Baha’i Temple and grounds. Rest at any of the many parks going north, including Gillson, Centennial, Maple Street, Lloyd and Tower Road to mention just those between Sheridan Road and the lake.
Chicagoland is blessed with so many great off-road bike trails. Nevertheless, we can’t skip Sheridan Road. This engaging route is slightly hilly and quite curvy. The traffic is slow and the lanes are wide. In fact, Sheridan Road is so bike friendly that many serious bikers train there - judging from all the spandex. Meanwhile, the sights are so awesome that you won’t have a chance to think about having sore muscles or being tired. The things to see start with the laced-domed Baha’i House of Worship, built 1912- 1953 and now on the National Register of Historic Places.
The eye candy continues northward, past hundreds of homes and through some of the city’s most affluent suburbs. You’ll appreciate them much more by bike than you ever have by automobile. Go ahead. Pick one out! By the way, it’s no accident that this ride goes north on Sheridan Road and south on the trail. A thorough analysis of satellite images revealed far fewer potholes on the east side of the street than on the west side. Plus, there’s less cross traffic on the east side since the lake will be on your right, resulting in fewer driveways and streets with which to contend.
Green Bay Trail
And now for something completely different, which is the charm of this ride. On the return, the crushed stone Green Bay Trail runs through woods that create tunnels of trees broken by lovely natural and suburban settings. The only downside is that occasionally you have to get from one of these woods to the next by a street or through a train station parking lot, but that doesn’t keep this from being an extremely popular trail.
To help keep you on track of these twists and turns, my ride log is long. Still, it’s pretty easy to ride through these wellmarked connectors and stations without getting lost. Part of the way, the trail parallels the former North Shore Line, an interurban railroad that ran between Chicago and Milwaukee until 1963. This fabled line operated the Electroliner, which represented the height of fast, comfortable interurban travel, complete with fine dining and bar cars.
Today, the train whistles you’ll hear belong to Metra, which runs through parts of the same right-of-way. The trail is smooth, so I’d recommend a road bike so you can sail along Sheridan Road.
44.279 km / 27.514 mi
165 m / 542 ft
166 m / 543 ft
211 m / 693 ft