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Closure notice: Between North Avenue and Tuohy Avenue, 4.4 miles of the trail is under construction for repair and upgrades. Check the status of the trail on the Forest Preserves of Cook County and the Forest Preserves of Lake County website for the latest information regarding temporary trail closures.
The Des Plaines River Trail runs alongside the Des Plaines River for just over 56 miles, protecting watershed habitat and forestland through much of Lake and Cook Counties. The trail is a natural oasis within a short drive of Chicago and its northern suburbs. Having such a long, lush trail just outside of such a densely populated urban area is truly a wonderful asset to the surrounding community.
Traveling from the north end to the south end, you will experience a variety of trail surfaces, from pavement to crushed stone to single-track forest trail. Be prepared for this terrain to change quickly and often for an exciting adventure at every turn. More novice riders and hikers might wish to start at the northern end and travel south the first 20 miles. Along this segment, users will find that the trail is well maintained and frequented by nearby residents. Keep an eye out for deer, birds, snakes, and turtles, all native to the area and abundant along the path.
Moving farther south, the corridor becomes narrow and filled with roots in certain segments. If the ground is wet, be careful when making turns. Also be cautious at the multiple instances where the trail crosses over several highly trafficked roads. Most of these intersections are well marked and have signals for cars to stop. Additionally, several crossings are by tunnel, which makes it much easier to continue along the trail at these intersections.
Just north of Golf Road in Des Plaines, the trail runs into an active railroad line and continues just on the other side of the tracks. Caution should be used here when crossing the tracks. About 3 miles of the trail parallel tracks in a rail-with-trail formation.
Restrooms, picnic areas, and water fountains are frequent throughout this system of connected forest preserves. Several parking lots are also located along the trail’s entire length, making it easy to access the route at a variety of points.
In Lake County, snowmobiles are permitted along the trail between Wadsworth Road (and in the wetlands research project area) and the northern terminus at Russell Road.
Parking is available at a number of locations along the trail. Visit the TrailLink map for all options, available transit lines, and detailed directions.
TrailLink is a free service provided by Rails-to-Trails conservancy
(a non-profit) and we need your support!