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The Cal-Sag Trail (or, Calumet-Sag Trail) is currently under active construction. As of August 2015, it has a competed section of about 10 miles, stretching from near its eventual western terminus to Ridgeland Avenue in the east. When completed, the trail will stretch some 26 miles, mostly along the Cal-Sag Channel and Little Calumet River. It will connect several communities and other trails, and provide access to several forest preserves and natural areas.
Near its present western endpoint at the Sagawau Environmental Learning Center, the trail passes through the Sag Quarries Nature Preserve, where old stone quarries have been converted to lakes for birding, fishing and hiking. From there eastward, the trail is rather flat as it passes cleared expanses of forest land now landscaped with natural grasses and wildflowers.
On eastward, beyond the cutoff to Teason's Woods, the trail becomes more hilly and densely tree-lined, all the way to just east of the 86th Avenue parking area. There it comes away from the woods to run alongside Calumet Sag Road, all the way to Southwest Highway. For about two blocks the trail continues alongside the highway without crossing it, though some trail-goers may want to cross to one of the businesses there to get refreshment or food.
From highway to woods again, the trail rejoins its fundamental alignment next to the Channel. It goes under another roadway and a railroad bridge, before breaking onto a quiet city street around the beautiful Lake Katherine area. From there it's back to wooded trailway all the way to the end at Ridgeland Avenue. There the trail passes the newly built Trinity Sports Complex then continues to 127th street where you cross over the Channel and then follow along it until you go under the Cicero Avenue (SR 50) bridge and reach it's current endpoint at Freedom Park in Alsip, IL. Parking is available at Freedom park and there is a portable toilet available at the park. 2017-2018 will see the continuation of the trail East for an additional 13 miles but this section is under construction and is not accessible at this time.
There is parking on the completed trail at these four locations:
Lake Katherine is the only area with restrooms and drinking fountains, as well.
Trail from Ridgeland Ave east to Cicero (2.5 miles) is paved.
Park at 131st and Cicero in Alsip has lots of parking spaces right beside the trail.
Trail east of here is in progress, with new bike/pedestrian bridge spans going into place last week at the East Arm of the Little Calumet River. This will provide a connection to Joe Lewis Golf course which will link to the Major Taylor Trail. Have no timeline for when that bridge will open.
My dad, brother, and I rode a few miles on the west end of this trail last weekend and it was great. Had to turn around because of rain but the short segment we did was in beautiful shape.
My complaint is the connection at the west end of the trail. We connected from the west via the Centennial Trail. The route from the Centennial Trail to the Cal-Sag Trail was marked pretty well up until the very end. The trail just completely dead-ends at the northwest corner of 83/171/Archer Ave/Main Street. Funny thing is, there's a trail marker sign right at this dead end, so from a ways off, we figured we were going the right way. It picks back up on the northeast corner, but we ended up trudging through some tall grass carrying our road bikes and crossing a busy intersection without a crosswalk to get there. On the way back, we smartly just crossed 83 at the trailhead parking lot (it's marked as Old Archer Ave on Google Maps), but it was a little hairy with no traffic light. Hopefully this will be fixed soon.
I have been riding this trail since July 2015 and each time out is a different and enjoyable experience. In the beginning I would park at 86th Ave or Southwest Highway and head west to the Cal Sag Quarries and back. Since the completion of the paving behind the Trinity Athletic Complex between Ridgeland Avenue and Central I find it necessary to "start" at the beginning-Freedom Park in Alsip. I ride this trail often (2-3 times a week) and each trip provides unique views of nature and wildlife. Intersecting with the Centennial trail and I&M trail at the western endpoint allows access to Waterfall Glen, Lemont, and Lockport. Trail also allows access to Swallow Cliff trails at 104th Avenue. 2017 will begin expansion eastward and ultimately become a 26 mile trail. Summer weekends find many people walking and riding but the trail never seems crowded. Enjoy your experience and PLEASE help keep the trail clean!
We did 12 miles each way on this today, it's supposed to be 13 miles (with plans to expand to 26 eventually?) but we couldn't see the connection for the last mile. The path has a fair number of small hills, all paved. It's lovely scenery, not a lot of shade yet but there should be more once the leaves are on the trees. Parking in both Alsip and Palos Park. Plenty of people using it but not overly crowded.
I inspected the entrance to the trail in Alsip on Sunday & came back for a ride on Monday. Found the trail to be very intriguing and beautiful. Hills weren't too steep but longer than the ones I'd been on. Only went 5 miles in and back out but got a good workout. Met friendly residents and fellow bicyclers.
Lots of twists and turns but a pleasant ride. Glad that there were benches scattered throughout the route. When my cousins come from out of town with their bikes I think I'll bring them to this trail.
..that's not the Bloomingdale.” That's what one writer called the Cal-Sag Trail. But let's just leave that last part off. Both of them are great new trails; but they're so different, it's pointless to make comparisons.
The Cal-Sag is a great, classic trail through nature and town alike. The quarries in the west and the long stretches along the channel. All the trees and the new landscape seedings. In another year, it's going to be grown up and beautiful all the way to Southwest Highway.
Then comes the gorgeous Lake Katherine area (where we parked) – with places to picnic, paths to stroll, and time to pass just looking at the lake and all the people visiting it.
There are no unsafe street crossings here. Along the channel, the trail goes under all the roadway crossings, affording places to stop and enjoy the view a bit.
Open meadows, dense woodlands, lakes, waterways and city streets. There's always something different to look at. And the trail surface is smooth new asphalt. Joy on joy, this is a great place to ride!
I parked at Teason Woods at 104th and Rt 83 and after crossing the intersection, I found a trail that was well-marked and did not require crossing any more streets--until one goes east toward Alsip and a couple small streets need to be crossed. I looped west to where Rt 83 heads north (Lemont) and then went back to the east end. Past Lake Katherine one can still go another few miles. Looping back to Lemont and then back to Teason , it's a pleasant and picturesque 31 mile ride. A bit boring in the wide open prairie but nice enough. In the woodsy part, one must watch out for lots on twigs on the path in order to avoid bike slippage/crash.
I rode from the north side of Chicago and took the major Taylor trail to 134th in riverdale and meandered up to 135th and Cicero in Alsip to get on the trail. I found it to be amazing and scenic. There is a 1 mile stretch that is unfinished east of Ridgeland Avenue, but I didn't mind slow going it. What a treat!
Overall, this trail is wonderful. I think it will be beautiful in the fall too. However, the description fails to state that the trail does not exist for one mile east of Ridgeland Avenue. The ride for that mile is through a gravel parking lot and isn't fun! I would strongly suggest not getting on the trail in Alsip, but getting on either at Harlem or Lake Katherine until that stretch is completed.
Crews are still working on this trail, but it's an enjoyable ride. Should be awesome when it's completed along with the future parts of this trail project.
The trail does not officially open until tomorrow June 6th on National Trail Day. We thought we would get in a pre-opening sneak peak ride.
We started on the Western end in Lemont off of Rte. 171. There is a large parking lot for the Forrest Preserve District with a port-a-pot where we parked.
Trail itself was pleasurable to ride with all the newly laid asphalt. Trail markers are clearly displayed every mile and also clearly mark where you are going.
The only negative was construction crews were still scrambling to do last minute cleanup work at different points of the trail in preparation for the grand opening tomorrow.
Lake Katherine is a nice place to take a break as there are port-a-pots there as well.
Entire trail will be ready sometime in 2017 and will be 26 miles one way when finished.
Should be an awesome trail in a few short years.
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