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.
Gently rolling crushed limestone path.
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.
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.
14.552 km / 9.042 mi
129 m / 422 ft
129 m / 422 ft
227 m / 746 ft