The North Shore Channel Trail extends from the junction of Green Bay Road and McCormick Boulevard in northern Evanston to the junction of Lawrence Avenue and Francisco Avenue in Chicago. All but the last 0.25 mile runs alongside the North Shore Channel, a drainage and aeration canal built in 1909; the last 0.25 mile follows the North Branch of the Chicago River. For most of the way, a trail occupies both sides of the North Shore Channel.
The trail on the west side is crushed limestone from Green Bay Road to Golf Road/Emerson Street and asphalt to Lincoln Avenue then again to halfway between Bryn Mawr and Foster avenues. Users will find a narrow dirt path to Foster Avenue before having to use Albany Avenue to Carmen Avenue. The trail becomes asphalt again to Lawrence. All street crossings are at grade and all crossings north of Lincoln Av have traffic lights.
The east side trail is asphalt from Green Bay Road to Lyons Street (halfway between Emerson St and Church St). Then use McDaniels Avenue to Dempster Street, cutting through the playground on the west side of the grade school at McDaniels or using the alley on the east side. Dempster to Main is asphalt, Main to halfway between Main and Oakton is gravel (not crushed limestone), then asphalt the rest of the way to Oakton. One block north of Oakton you'll find a dog park; also nearby is a dock from which you can launch canoes.
The segment from Oakton to Howard is industrial and a fence prevents you from crossing under the Skokie Swift El tracks. From Howard to Lincoln you can ride down Kedzie Avenue, and from Touhy to Thillens Little League stadium one block north of Devon you'll find some fun dirt paths through the trees, if you're into mountain biking.
From Lincoln to Lawrence the North Shore Channel Trail is asphalt, with the last one block on Francisco Avenue. All street crossings north of Howard are at grade level without traffic lights. From Howard to Devon there are traffic lights at the major cross streets. South of Devon, the trail goes underneath all cross streets except Argyle.
If you want an all-asphalt route with a minimum of street crossings and a maximum of traffic lighted street crossings, use the east side trail from Green Bay to Emerson, the west side trail from Emerson/Golf to Lincoln, and then the east side trail from Lincoln to Lawrence.
Won’t be riding this again on the road bike. Fumes from roads make this not so pleasant. Sculptures and play ground for kids are great but that’s about it. Got lost when it flips to other side of river.
This route is for kids on bikes, not serious cyclists. Fun all the same with the kids for sure
Great Urban bike ride. Start out in a park in North Shore suburbs and goes into the north side of the city. Ride is in a park alongside the Water Reclamation canal. Goes along this very long sculpture garden to start. Wonderful sculptures. Take your time and enjoy the art or bike for exercise. Kind of cool as it zigs and zags. Pretty many road crossings, but well marked with lights. You end up going through a more urban park setting, and stop on Lawrence not far from Wrigleyville.
The northern portion of the trail that goes through the Evanston Arboretum and past the Ecology Center up to Green Bay Road is now paved with asphalt and is nice and smooth as of early 2016. So now the entire length from Green Bay Rd south to Devon Ave is Ashely or cement.
Trail is paved, nicely landscaped, with sculpture park a good part of the way. Only drawback is many traffic lights along the way.
Easy to connect to Green Bay Trail: take Prairie Avenue (just before Green Bay Rd) to Central, cross RR track underpass at Green Bay to Poplar Drive, which runs right into Green Bay Trail at Wilmette Avenue.