The Robert McClory Bike Trail (formerly the North Shore Bike Path) is notorious for its conglomeration of names over the years. At any given time-and depending on whom you ask-it has been called the Green Bay Trail, the North Shore Trail, and the Robert McClory Trail. Its formal name, given in 1997, honors a bike-friendly government official. And the Green Bay Trail
is separate, heading south from the southern terminus of the McClorey Trail.
The trail strings together the communities of Highland Park, Highwood, Fort Sheridan, Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, Great Lakes Naval Air Station, North Chicago, Waukegan, Beach Park, Zion and Winthrop Harbor before seamlessly melding into the 3.5-mile Kenosha County Bike Trail at the Wisconsin state line.
Despite its modern-day identity crisis, the trail's past is clear. The majority of its route follows a historic Chicago, North Shore, and Milwaukee Railroad corridor. This railroad was an electric line, and many of the old towers supporting the electric cables are visible along the trail. The trail surface alternates between asphalt and a finely screened limestone that offers a good, hard base for most trail uses.
Starting in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, the smooth, paved trail travels through picturesque suburban communities (many of them among the most affluent in the Chicago area) that dominate most of the trail's first half. Leaving Highwood, you parallel active railroad tracks for most of the next 7 miles to just south of North Chicago. The trail and the tracks are separated by about 20 to 30 feet of thin forest most of this time.
Entering Lake Forest, the trail detours onto streets, as well as through large parking lots that service the Metra station. This route is well marked and easy to follow. The section between Lake Bluff and North Chicago still parallels the Metra tracks, on the left, but this stretch also opens up and quiets down, with expanses of woodlands and a golf course.
North Chicago's section of the trail is very wide, housing the trail, utility lines and the old electric towers from the railroad days. Mile markers seem to exist only north of Great Lakes. Another unique feature along this section is mile after mile of community gardens. A lot of the trail's open space has been tilled, and gardens sprout up everywhere, adding a charming country touch to the urban atmosphere.
As you head north, the subdivisions increasingly give way to fields. The Robert McClory Bike Path meets the Kenosha County Bike Trail
on the bridge crossing Russell Road; this is the state line. The remaining 3.5 miles of trail take you through Wisconsin, and this stretch is distinctly more rural, with a beautiful, tree-lined finish to the Kenosha trailhead.
To access the Highland Park trailhead, take US Highway 41 (Skokie Hwy.) to Central Avenue and head east for just over 1 mile. Turn right onto St. Johns Avenue and park in any lot on the right. The trail starts along the west side of St. Johns Avenue, where it meets Laurel Avenue
To reach the Kenosha trailhead from I-94, take 104th Street east for 4.25 miles. Turn left onto Springbrook Road and go just over a half mile. Turn left onto 39th Avenue and continue for 1.1 miles. Turn right onto 89th Avenue. The trailhead is a half mile ahead on the right, at the intersection of 89th Avenue and 30th Street.
I really want to give the northern part of this trail chance after chance. I ride it at least once a season to see if anything is improving.
Like another reviewer, I also had multiple problems with broken liquor and beer bottles on the trail. I also ...
I ride the Robert McClory Bike Path every week during daytime, on weekdays and weekends, from Highland Park to Kenosha and back. In my experience: (1) Broken glass is an issue, particularly by Waukegan Marine (best to carry or walk the bike by the building) ...
Echo to another reviewer, on last Saturday I biked with my father and three sons from Lake Bluff heading north all the way to Zion, after getting in the North chicago area, the scene and bike path both are not good, not worth to try indeed. Safety is ...