Arie Crown Trail

Cycle Chicago, Mountain Bike Ride, Arie Crown Trail

This short bike ride near Hodgkins and Countryside can serve as an introduction to mountain biking for novices. Much of the path is crushed limestone, but significant portions of it are over dirt or grass, and quite narrow at times. A few small hills and some bumpy sections add to the excitement. Overall, it’s a rugged bike ride but manageable because it’s so short and so well patronized.


A combination of crushed limestone and dirt paths.


Exit Interstate 55 at La Grange Road (Highways 12, 20 and 45). Go north to the second entrance to Arie Crown Woods on the left, which is for Sundown Meadow. The trail starts at the map on the left as you enter the third of three connected parking lots.

Food and Drink

Only water in the forest preserve.

Side Trip

Arie Crown Woods is nestled between several attractive forest preserves with great bicycle paths. Since this ride is short, think about coupling it with a pedal through the Palos Forest Preserve, along Salt Creek, in Fullersburg Woods or down the Illinois & Michigan Canal, all of which are nearby


More Details

This bike ride is thoroughly enjoyable because it allows you to test your interest in mountain biking or to practice any nascent skills you already have in that department. Two trails loop through the heavily wooded 250-acre Arie Crown Forest Preserve, so you can ride around and around without seeing more than an occasional automobile.

The path runs over crushed limestone, dirt and grass with single-track sections. Rocks, tree roots, mud or dust (depending on the recent weather) and fallen branches keep things interesting. There are no major streets to deal with - only a few park roads so you can lose yourself, literally and figuratively, in the hardy, dense, outdoor experience. Don’t worry about getting lost for long however; the trails are well marked, except at one point, which is noted in the Ride Log. Several picnic shelters offer great places to relax, as does Lake Ida in Sundown Meadow near the start and finish of the ride.

The forest preserve is named after Arie Crown, a Lithuanian immigrant who was the father of billionaire Henry Crown, a noted industrialist and generous philanthropist throughout Chicagoland. A better known namesake of the Crown family is the Arie Crown Theater at McCormick Place on Lake Shore Drive, which opened in 1960 and seats 4,250 people, making it one of the area’s largest theaters.

All of the other forest preserve trails in Cook County are paved, so take advantage of this rough ride to enjoy a different kind of bicycling adventure. The trail is not so rough that you will need a mountain bike or special padding and wrist guards. A hybrid or comfort bike will do just fine. Still, leave your track bike or road bike - as well as your white pants - at home. 


Ride Log

  • 0.0 Start at the map in front of the entrance to the short Red Trail spur. 250 ft Turn right onto the main Yellow Trail.
  • 0.7 Turn right to stay on Yellow Trail.
  • 0.9 Go straight ahead through the grass section. You will pick up the trail very quickly.
  • 1.6 Pass on the left one of several mowed trails for more serious mountain biking.
  • 1.8 Cross road at parking lot.
  • 2.0 Cross small park road.
  • 2.2 Turn left onto Black Trail
  • 2.4 Turn left to stay on Black Trail.
  • 2.5 Cross road at parking lot.
  • 2.7 Bike straight through the intersection of the Black and Blue trails.
  • 2.8 Bear right where the trail splits without a directional sign. Continue along the left side of the road.
  • 2.9 Cross the road where you will appear to lose the Black Trail because signage is unclear. Go straight ahead toward the line of trees and then follow along the left side of that line, toward the sound of traffic from Interstate 55.
  • 3.0 Turn left at Yellow Trail.
  • 3.3 Cross road at parking lot.
  • 3.5 Cross small park road.
  • 3.7 Bear right to stay on Yellow Trail.
  • 3.8 Turn right onto Red Trail.
  • 3.9 End ride at sign in parking lot.
  • Trail map

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    6.103 km / 3.792 mi

    Total Distance

    187 m / 614 ft

    Total Ascent

    187 m / 612 ft

    Total Descent

    224 m / 734 ft

    Highest Point

    Ride type:
    Mountain biking
    Road riding
    Kid friendly
    Rail Trail
    Difficulty: Beginner (Green)
    Ride Duration: <1 hr
    Fitness Level: Medium
    MTB Segment: flow
    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
    Mobile Coverage: Limited
    Estimated Distance: 6.3
    First Aid
    Bike hire
    Bike servicing
    Accessible by bike
    Accessible by car
    Accessible by public transport
    Accessible by shuttle / uber

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