Cycle Chicago, Sightseeing Ride, Salt Creek Trail to Brookfield Zoo
Beginning in Bemis Woods in Western Springs, this ride offers a whole day of outdoor fun. Ride along the pleasant, mostly wooded Salt Creek natural area and take a break in the middle of your ride to visit Brookfield Zoo, Chicagoland’s largest and most attractive zoo. Since the zoo is only 6.6 miles into the ride, even young children could easily enjoy this ride, especially when coupled with the fun of, and perhaps lunch at, the zoo.
Wide, paved path through woods with a couple of very gentle hills. Five major road crossings.
Take the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Metra line to Western Springs, bike four blocks north and enter Bemis Woods South (Groves 5-8) along Ogden Road. Bike straight past the first road on the right and find the trailhead in the first parking area.
By car, exit Interstate 294 at Route 34, going east on Ogden Avenue. After half a mile, turn left into Bemis Woods South (Groves 5-8). Drive past the first road on the right and park in the first parking area straight ahead.
Food and Drink
Water along the trail and plenty of food options at the zoo.
Brookfield Zoo. Also, Bemis Woods at the start and finish of this ride offers several miles of unpaved trails suitable for mountain biking. Although more rugged than the paved Salt Creek Trail, these trails are not very challenging.
The shallow, meandering Salt Creek is a mighty friend to bicyclists. Parks and woods line the creek much of the way from its source at Wilke Marsh in Palatine to where it joins the Des Plaines River near Brookfield. Many of these green ways include bike paths. Most of the creek’s watershed is developed but you wouldn’t know it from this trail, which passes through several picnic groves, meadows and shaded wooded areas. Even the parts that pass through developed areas have a quiet or small-town feel. The serene British Home at 6.3 miles is a nonprofit retirement community opened in 1924 on land donated by Samuel Insull, President of what later became Commonwealth Edison. It now serves all nationalities. This trail gets very busy on weekends in the summer and is prone to flooding, especially in the spring.
Opened in 1934, Brookfield Zoo became known for enclosing animals with ditches and other natural barriers rather than bars. Today it spreads over 216 acres and houses 450 species of animals. Even if you’ve been to this zoo it’s worth another visit since it changes constantly. In the past decade, the zoo constructed a wolf woods, family play zoo and butterfly tent. In 2010 it opened the Great Bear Wilderness, a sprawling habitat that fits into the zoo’s approach of placing animals in their natural ecosystems. Its other habitats include a swamp, rain forest, desert and savanna. A walk around the zoo will refresh you for the bike ride back to Bemis Woods.
25.038 km / 15.558 mi
237 m / 779 ft
237 m / 777 ft
205 m / 671 ft