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 Forest. 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 of 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 Highway 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 Forest, some residential subdivisions. When you reach the golf course in Lake Forest, the Skokie Valley Trail turns east toward the lake and ends at the Laurel Avenue trailhead.
You can also carry on north another 1.45 miles, still paralleling US 41, to 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 eastwest along Rockland Road. Turn left on the trail and you can access the Des Plains River Trail
near Libertyville; turn right on the trial to hook into the Robert McClory Bike Path
, which heads north into Wisconsin and South back to the city.
To access the trail in Highland Park (remember, there is no parking here), take Interstate 94 to Skokie Valley Road (US Route 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 Forest trailhead from Interstate 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.
Having grown up on the NW side of Chicago my whole life and biking anywhere I could, I have wanted a longer ride. I have done the NBT and the loop at the Skokie Lagoons but wanted some more distance without having to repeat something. I found out about ...
I rode on this trail for the first time today. Overall, it's a very easy ride with only a few main road crossings, none of which required any significant effort/wait to cross. It's generally straight and flat, and completely paved from end-to-end. As ...
If you're looking for a convenient, no-frills, mostly flat roadway to build up your endurance, this is a great trail for the purpose. Don't come here to enjoy picturesque views of flora and fauna: most of the scenery consists of power lines and the rear ...