An excellent example of land use in greater Chicago, the entire Skokie Valley Trail corridor is a rail-with-trail, paralleled by double tracks that sit about 40 feet to the west of the trail surface. The well-maintained asphalt path offers a nice, smooth experience for a multitude of uses. In addition, the trail shares right-of-way with a major electricity service company, and you will see high-voltage electrical wires overhead.
The trail connects Highland Park in the south to the northern trailhead in Lake Bluff. Although there is no parking or proper trailhead in Highland Park, you can park less than 0.25 mile to the south at the Village Square at Northbrook, a large shopping mall off Skokie Boulevard.
It's amazing to see how nature can flourish in such an urban environment. Even as you pass suburban Chicago life along each side of the corridor, it's not uncommon to come across rabbits, deer, blackbirds, hawks and robins among numerous tree and low-brush species. The trail is sandwiched between US 41 and the train tracks for most of its course, and there are several major road crossings. While these are well marked and include crosswalks, use caution when crossing.
The 200-plus-foot trail bridge over State Route 22 signals the midpoint of the trip. The remainder of the trail passes through mainly commercial and light industrial developments, and, as you approach Lake Bluff, some residential subdivisions. Just after you reach the Deerpath golf course in Lake Forest, the Skokie Valley Trail splits, with a short spur turning east toward the lake and ending at the Laurel Avenue trailhead.
The main trail carries on north another 1.45 miles, still paralleling US 41, to its terminus at State Route 176/Rockland Road. You'll pass through a tunnel under the train tracks just north of Laurel Avenue. At SR 176/Rockland Road, the trail connects to the North Shore Bike Path, which runs east–west along Rockland Road. Turn left on the trail and you can access the Des Plaines River Trail near Libertyville; turn right on the trail to join the Robert McClory Bike Path, which heads north into Wisconsin and south back towards Chicago.
A disconnected section of trail is open on the same corridor farther south in Skokie. Long-term plans call for this trail in Lake County to eventually connect to the Skokie Valley Trail in Cook County.
To access the trail in Highland Park (remember, there is no parking here), take Interstate 94 to Skokie Valley Road (US 41) north. After just under 1 mile, turn left on County Line Road. Access the trail from the gas station parking lot on the right, just past Skokie Valley Road. To park, take County Line Road to Skokie Road and turn left, traveling just 0.1 mile south to a large shopping mall on the left.
To reach the Lake Bluff trailhead from I-94, take W. Kennedy Road (County Road 60) east 1.5 miles. Turn left onto N. Waukegan Rd. (County Road 43), go 0.5 mile and turn right on W. Deerpath Road. After 1.4 miles, turn left on N. Green Bay Road (County Road 131) and travel for 0.7 mile. Turn left on E. Laurel Avenue. The trailhead (with parking), is just under a half mile away, at the dead end of Laurel Avenue.