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The Salt Creek Trail travels nearly 27 miles from the Brookfield Zoo to Busse Woods Forest Preserve. Along the way it connects several beautiful county forest preserves and other woodland areas.
Portions of the trail are paved, while others have a limestone screening, and a few short segments are an on-road route. It is well marked throughout, although take care at some junctions, which can confuse.
The Salt Creek Trail intersects the Illinois Prairie Path in Villa Park, and follows it for a short stretch around State Route 83.
Parking is available at several points along the trail, including (from north to south):
The path between Bemis Woods in Western Springs to the Brookfield Zoo is great! Nicely paved and easy to ride. You have to cross a couple of busy streets, but most of them have traffic signals.
I love this trail but a few tings to note. Be wary of walking or biking this trail after heavy torrential rainstorms, especially in the springtime, as it obviously parallels salt creek, hence the name. Several areas flood along the route.
As others have stated, it is confusing to get on this "trail" when starting from Busse Woods. You have to start at the Busse Woods entrance/exit at Arlington Heights Rd. cross the street and zig zag over to Ridge St. Ridge St. is the "trail" through Elk Grove and through the industrial Park in Wood Dale before finally hitting the gravel path and then eventually asphalt.
Good occasional views of deer and geese are common around the ponds in Addison.
I started at Busse Woods and the first 3miles or so we’re all residential streets and very confusing signs and detours ended up getting off the “path” and was headed towards O’Hare airport realized we were going the wrong direction. When we finally made it past Irving Park Road there was finally trails but poorly maintained. We decided after 8 miles to head back to Busse Woods where we parked. Next time I would consider parking further south and avoid the trails north of Irving Park Road as it is pretty much all street driving.
Full of variety, with the chance of stopping for bbq along the way, this is a trail that is fun.
Last time I rode it (last week) there were a couple of flooded spots (under the expressways), one was walkable (with the bike at your side), the other was impossible. Fortunately it was possible to go thru a side road and bypass the flooding.
This is a very good trail but don't use Busse Woods Reservois as your starting point. The trail signs are poorly marked and located. I got lost three times because the signs simply are not there. For example, as I was following the signage in Wood Dale until I came across a Salt Creek Trail sign which read it was the end of the trail at Mittel and Wood Dale Blvd. What?? I luckily found the trail after I back tracked and I glanced into an industrial parking lot. Yes, you need to go through or adjacent to a parking lot to gain access. Wood Dale is horrible, the trail is in horrible condition, and the sights are even worse, especially when it parallels direct under high tension electric power lines. Once you get past Wood Dale the trail becomes quite scenic and tranquil. Is it worth it? I hesitantly say yes if you avoid Wood Dale.
When I first started biking, my first trail was the Busse Woods trail. When I got tired of going around the 8 mile loop 3-4 times for distance, I discovered that the Salt Creek Trail starts at the Busse Woods and ends up at the Brookfield Zoo. I made it a personal goal of mine to make it from Busse Woods to the zoo and back again - unfortunately, I moved away from the area before I could back in 2013, but returning to Chicago, I finally worked myself up to the challenge this year! The trail is very nice, you go through a lot of diverse forest preserves as well as a little road biking. None of the roads that need to be biked on are particularly heavy traffic on the weekends, but there is the chance you'll have to stop and wait for a train to cross in a few areas. The trail itself is well maintained and elevation diverse to keep itself interesting. The only issue I really have is that the signage along the trail is an epic failure in certain parts - after reaching the Prairie Path trail, picking the Salt Creek Trail back up again requires a map because there's no sign marking it. The final few miles of trail are also difficult to keep track of as the trail isn't marked as the Salt Creek Trail, but rather simply as the 'red' trail of the final forest preserve you pass through on the way to the zoo. There are points where there are trail intersections and it's hard to figure out which is the natural direction of the trail. Once you figure it out though (and having the traillink app really helps!), it's one of the nicest trails in the area. Definitely remember to bring water though - there aren't any water fountains that I saw on this trail, and the trail rarely passes through any business areas where you can buy any. It'd be 5 stars if not for the navigation issues.
Rode this last Saturday from Brookfield Zoo to Villa Ave in Villa Park. Trail was fun. winds up & down while it follows most of Salt Creek. Crosses a few major roads like Mannheim, 31st & 22nd. I plan on riding Villa Park to Busse Woods soon.
On Sundays, I regularly pick up the trail on 26th Ave. in Brookfield and ride west until I join the Illinois Prairie Path in Elmhurst. The majority of this section is fantastic, paved and easy to ride with plenty of small hills and small zig-zags through the woods.
There are a few intersections that require a quick stop and careful look around before crossing. The largest road to cross is Mannheim/LaGrange Road, but once west of that the riding is fast and fun.
On one occasion, the road was flooded in several places after a rough weekend of storms. All other times it has been clean and dry. A couple of places are a bit confusing on where to go, but using the TrailLink App helps a lot. There are also Salt Creek Trail signs posted in several places of confusion.
At Oakbrook Golf Course, the road turns to gravel for a while as you ride north. It's therefore a slower section, but safe and away from cars.
There is a nice little bathroom facility in York Woods County Forest Preserve if you need a stop, and there are some tables there as well if you want to sit and rest. Watch for deer!
I'm looking forward to riding the rest of the trail north up to the end, but for now the south Salt Creek is a blast.
I love the Salt Creek Trail. It is close to my house and it offers a lot of great scenery and mileage options. You can ride the one way 7.7 miles from Brookfield Zoo Woods to Oakbrook area or you can ride the 27 miles from Brookfield Zoo Woods all the way to connect with Busse Woods. It is always kept clean and there are plenty of friendly riders to encounter.
Started in Elk Grove signs start to get confusing in Woodale,had to ask a local for directions.Got through Woodale had to ask another local.Trail is well marked from Woodale through Addison lose it at 83 and lake gave up and turned around.
In general,the guys that plan these trails ought to ride them to see how some of them don't match their maps or signs.
I have ridden the northern sections of the trail many times. Today I was riding home from Downer's Grove and picked up the trail in Oakbrook Terrace. The trail was well marked, mostly asphalt and it went over or under all the busy roads.
This trail is a great mix of forest preserves and urban riding.We took a round-trip route from Western Springs (Bemis Woods) to Elk Grove Village which showed 41.3 total miles on my GPS.
This is a nice map for showing what the trail looks like but you can not get the distance of a section of trail. I wanted to know how far a particular section was and this ap will not allow for that.
Trail starts down the street from me in EGV. I love the views and the different types of ride adventure you get throughout the towns. A must for all bicycle riders!
We rode the short 7-mile original section of the trail starting at Brookfield Zoo for the first time. Most of it is nice, winding path through forests. This was in spring, so there were plenty of flowers blooming and riding through tunnels of honeysuckle bushes smelled wonderful. There were plenty of deer, birds and other wildlife to experience as well.
We, however, are used to riding a trail system in a less urban area that follows along a river bed, so has less street crossings. I understand that having a contiguous trail in a densely populated urban area with streets on a grid will cause street crossings. This section of the Salt Creek Trail, however, has several that are poorly marked or not marked at all. At the intersection of Cermack and Mannheim, the trail seems to disappear, with no indications at all. We only were able to continue due to directions from a jogger using the trail. The crossing at 31st street is also confusing and not marked, but we were able to figure that one out with a little head scratching.
Due to it's twisty nature and many crossings, it may not be great for hard core training. The fact that it doesn't allow for great speed, does make it ideal for families.
I would recommend this trail, but one should study the route first and not trust that it will be clearly marked.
My husband and I have ridden this trail three times this year, once last year. We rode it regularly for years, but then moved away. I had heard it had deteriorated in the intervening time. Well if it did, it is ok now. It is asphalt, and some of the asphalt has buckeled, but I have seen worse. Good points: there are picnic groves where you can rest. Bad points: No water. When we rode the trail years ago, if the water pumps were not working,we would leave the trail at the Manheim Rd crossing and go buy a drink at a convience store or at the Jewel. The old outhouses have been replaced with port-a potties. The old out houses were cleaner!! The wells have been capped. You cannot even see where they were. The section we ride is from the Brookfield Zoo to Bemis Woods. There is a genuine toilet at the Bemis Woods parking area. Overall, the hill are gentle, and the trail is shady. I would submit pictures, but the photo system has a problem. It did work a month ago.
Salt Creek Trail in the Bemis Woods Forest Preserve - wooded forest preserve paved path in good condition, but subject to flooding during heavy rains, especially in the spring. From the trailhead at Mc Cormick Ave & 31st street (just west of the zoo's north parking/entry), there are five major road crossings of busy roads only one of which is at an intersection with crossing lights, however, the others are well marked. This trail is heavily used by bikers, runners, and walkers.
The original 6.6 miles from the Brookfield Zoo to the western edge of Bemis Woods Forest Preserve has been extended to a 32 mile route that ends at the Busse Woods trail loop. The project is officially complete and it is possible to ride from the zoo to Busse Woods. The 0-mile is at the intersection with the Busse loop south to the 32 mile marker near the zoo. There are some on street sections along this route, but most is paved trail and some crushed limestone trail.
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