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The Thorn Creek Trail offers a paved route traversing woodlands abundant with wildlife through several communities on the southern outskirts of Chicago. The trail travels from Brownwell Woods in Thornton, through Glenwood Woods and Joe Orr Woods. The Thorn Creek Trail connects to the eastern end of the Old Plank Road Trail and ends in the Sauk Trail Woods Forest Preserve in Chicago Heights.
On the trail's north end, parking is available in Wapum Lake Woods off Glenwood-Lansing Road just west of Torrence Avenue/Rt. 83 and off Cottage Grove Avenue just south of 183rd Street.
On its south end, park in Sauk Woods off Forest Preserve Drive north of 30th Street and off W. 26th Street west of Euclid Avenue.
Midway, there is parking in Joe Orr Woods off E. Joe Orr Road.
Rode this train on 8/14/22. We did the entire trail, including the loop around the lake. There are several road crossings, but the busy roads have traffic signals to make it safe. This trail goes through dense woods, open meadows, small towns, and along Thorn Creek. The pavement was excellent and the trail was not crowded at all.
I enjoyed this trail. There are some street crossings (5 maybe?) but the trickier ones have crossing lights so not hard just kind of annoying.
I did the loop around Sauk Lake and I'm glad I did since it was a very pleasant part of the trip.
I parked at Lansing Woods but next time I think I would park at Sweet Woods.
Parking at Sweet Woods and doing the Sauk Lake loop gives a 20 mile ride which is my sweet spot. But it can be easily extended by going up towards Lansing Woods or shooting down Old Plank Road Trail a bit.
This is a terrific trail to ride. Woods, Meadows, winding creeks. A bridge over rail lines and a tunnel under rail lines.
We rode this trail along with a loop around Sauk Lake for a 30 mile round trip.
We started in the morning but did find as the time got later the road crossing that had nothing more than a crossings sign became somewhat difficult to get a break in traffic.
We rode this trail in early Nov 2020, and liked it so much we returned two weeks later for another run. This is one of the most interesting of the suburban trails we have ridden, with a number of bridge crossings of the creek. The trail winds through various Forest Preserve forests and meadows on its north end, before veering due south at Glenwood for a long straight stretch, then wanders through several pleasant neighborhood-adjacent parks before ending at Sauk Lake.
Well worth adding the very peaceful and scenic Black Trail loop around Sauk Lake, just be prepared for that one steep hill at the back, lol! An added benefit is that Thorn Creek Trail is amazingly smooth, with very few of those root-bump cracks that you always seem to feel so much more on the return trip.
Ignore the nonsense in the "Parking and Trail Access" section about the northern trailhead being at "Wapum" (Actually Wampum) Lake Woods. There's no trailhead there, they need to change that. Park at Lansing Woods on 186th just east of Torrence.
Agree with all the posters below: this is a great trail and another example of what gems these FPD trails are! So close to urban, highway, and residential, yet a secluded ride in the woods.
If riding south and west, park at the Red trailhead at Lansing Woods, just east of Torrance on 183rd Street. Late season and winter, mind the wind direction before choosing which way to ride this trail, as much of it runs due south.
11.8 miles to the end of the red trail, then you can tack on 4 miles on the black loop. 11.0 miles to the east end of the Old Plank Road trail.
(August 2020) The trail was in great condition and easy to follow. The majority of the trail was shaded, but there were some sections passing through open fields. Nice variety in scenery and plenty of turns and curves to keep things interesting.
Great trail! Well-paved without damage. Lots of trees and turns. Not boring and straight like many city trails. Thorn Creek travels through woods, meadows, and some suburbia. Watch your map so you don't end up going off on one of the many offshoots.
Decided to do this trail instead of the Old Plank Trail. Much better than the long straight trail. Many winding turns, the loop through the Preserve at the end is a nice turn around spot. Signage could be a little better though.
In October 2017 three of us rode the Thorn Creek Trail west to east. We marveled at its excellent surface (smooth, no potholes or root bumps) and mostly level route. Signage was excellent, with large area maps periodically, As other reviewers noted, most sections are in trees. Worth noting are several large meadows you ride through or along - very pretty. The Trail connects to Old Plank on the west and other trails to the east, so you can easily ride a day end to end on several trails. The icing on the cake (as it were) was a stop @ Calumet Bakery on Torrance Avenue. Bottom line: congrats to the folks who planned and implemented the trail. We'll be back!
biked the trail Sat 4/8/17. as previously stated, asphalt was in excellent shape, no root bumps or gopher holes. also as stated, trees blocked most of the 15+ mph winds, only a few exposed meadows. should be shaded most of the way during the summer. several parking areas, all w clean port-o-sans. tons of buttercups already up, will ride again this weekend as lots of wildflower habitat that should fill with trilliums and such in the coming weeks. almost no traffic, much better than slogging through the crowds on the lakefront. Glenwood Oaks was a great stop for lunch, and Calumet Bakery for post-ride refuel - grab a nut roll for breakfast. we came from downtown, was a half hour drive to Lansing Woods parking lot at 186th & Torrence. started down the Old Plank Trail but turned back as it was strewn w broken bottles. Thorn Creek is a great trail.
Black Friday and this was a great way to spend it. We started at the northern end just off route 83. Plenty of parking too. The asphalt is in fantastic condition and the trail despite a few busy road crossovers was scenic. What a way to escape the hustle and bustle my husband was thrilled when we came to the bridge built just for pedestrians that crossed over the train tracks. My husband the train nut was excited to get to see the Union Pacific pass under us too. At the southern end we ended up in the Sauk Valley preserve that is a treasure. Great job connecting all the parks and preserves. We could have even ridden the Old Plank Road Trail since we passed right by in Chicago Heights.
what a nice trail! Love the woods! If you are concerned with wind, this trail is for you. the trees block them. However, be aware that if you drive your car to the parking areas in the forest preserves, they do not open until around 7 am. Otherwise, you will need to find a place on neighboring streets.
I read that there is parking by:
Wampum Lake Woods
598 Thornton Lansing Rd
Thornton, IL 60476
...that is true.
BUT the BIKE TRAIL does NOT go all the way to Wampum Lake.
It comes from Lansing and goes to:
Cottage Grove Ave
Glenwood, IL 60425
where there is parking. The bike trail also goes south & west all the way to Sauk Trail & Western Ave.
Forest preserve at Wampum Lake has a nice picnic area & trails around the small lake. Shore fishing. No swimming. No boating.
I haven't ridden the trail but I live here & have seen new paved paths in Glenwood to connect & make a longer trail. There are a picnic areas in Glenwood, also. Further down the trail I'm not sure...
I should start riding & check out this home trail!
On the south end, the Thorn Creek trail now us connected to the Sauk Trail Woods Forest Preserve (Cook Co.), with a street crossing at 26th. Just north of there in Chicago Heights, the Thorn Creek trail connects to the eastern terminus of the Old Plank Road trail, crossing Campbell Ave. near W. Hickory Dt.
The trail now is paved from Sweet Woods to Joe Orr Woods. The pavement is very smooth.
Peaceful and lovely trail...makes my runs more enjoyable!
Just started riding this trail very nice.
Trail has been paved and in excellent shape. A nice short ride about 4.6 miles long, not crowded.
This is a pretty trail, but it has been neglected over the years. It is now so rutted as to make it impossible to ride now. There are long cracks parallel with the direction of the trail that are just waiting to grab you wheel. They really need someone who knows how to construct a trail, come in and repave this. It does take you through some interesting terrain, with abundant wildlife along the way. But this is one trail where you really have to take it slow and you will miss some of the beauty along the way because of it.
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