North Branch Trail

Trail Map

Description Suggest an Edit

The beautiful North Branch Trail is named for the North Branch of the Chicago River, along which it winds. At its northern end, the trail begins at the south end of the Chicago Botanic Garden and continues south to circle the Skokie Lagoons and Erikson Woods. It then meanders south through wooded suburbs, beside golf courses, and among open space to the forest preserve at Edgebrook in Chicago.

The trail offers several resting areas and public restrooms. For much of the trail’s route, there are alternate dirt paths through the woods that allow horseback riding. Wildlife is plentiful.

At the Chicago Botanic Garden, you can connect to the Green Bay Trail. Continue north on the North Branch Trail through the garden to Lake Cook Road and turn right (east). After less than 1 mile, you'll see the Green Bay Trail where it intersects Lake Cook Road.

Future plans call for extending the trail farther south about 3 miles to Gompers Park.

Parking and Trail Access

To access the northern trailhead, take Lake Cook Road to the Chicago Botanic Garden, located east of I-94/US 41 and 0.5 mile west of Green Bay Road. Park here. You can also start from the many forest preserves along the way as the trail heads south.

To access the southern trailhead in Chicago, take Milwaukee Avenue to Devon Avenue. Head 0.2 mile east to the Caldwell Woods Preserve. Take the entrance road labeled Caldwell Woods Groves 1, 2 & 3.


Great for biking, plenty of crossings for the first few miles

   September, 2016 by mrjuice

The map shown combines two trails, the initial 13 of the north branch trail and a 4.4 mile lagoon loop. The trail is asphalt and is very well maintained. The first few miles have a lot of street crossings that are mostly well marked, with a few more

Very good trail

   August, 2016 by mattterry

I ride NBT during the summer work days (being a teacher has its perks). I usually bike north to the Gardens then bike back to Devon for a total of 30 or so miles. The trail is fairly empty. The people I've encountered are courteous and announce themselves more

As good as it gets

   July, 2016 by chris8408

Been riding this trail since I was kid, almost 25 years, and it's always been a winner! If you live in the city, this is as good as it gets for the distance it covers. Yeah, the crossing of streets can be a little annoying but compared to city streets, more