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The northern section of the Tinley Creek Trail is a series of color-coded connected loops and spurs that weave through several forest preserves in Cook County. The 24-mile trail system is paved, making it a paradise for all types of trail users.
After parking near Turtlehead Lake at the northern end of the red trail loop, get your bearings at the first of a series of trailside maps. Decide whether to take the loop north or south, and enjoy the scenic, rural 9.4-mile trip around a series of small lakes and through beautiful prairie grassland. Along the way you will see many different species of birds, including sparrows and orioles, flying back and forth across the trail.
At the north end of the trail, you also have the opportunity to connect to the Orland Park Bikeway at 139th Street, which heads west and southwest to downtown Orland Park, as well as the Palos Heights Bike Trail at 131st Street, which heads north to the Lake Katherine Nature Preserve and the Cal-Sag Trail.
Not quite ready to return back to your car? At mile marker 0, take a left onto the green trail, which cuts along Oak Park Avenue to the 3-mile purple loop, which will take you through Yankee Woods and the George W. Dunne National Golf Course. Use this opportunity to stop at the excellent trailside picnic facilities in Yankee Woods. A short yellow spur leads to Bremen Grove, which is also a great spot to have a snack and take in a bit more of the forest preserve.
The trail continues along the 3-mile blue leg of the network through St. Mihiel Woods and around the Midlothian Reservoir. Feed the local geese or hop off the trail and cast a line in the reservoir, where fishing is allowed. After passing the reservoir on your left, use the crosswalk to traverse Cicero Avenue at 167th Street. Follow the trail along Cicero Avenue for about a mile. You may feel like you’re traveling on a wide sidewalk, but you will soon reenter the forest preserve at Midlothian Meadows. There’s another scenic 3-mile loop through the meadow, as well as two options for parking at the eastern end of the park.
A few miles south, there's another segment of the Tinley Creek Trail system that's disconnected from the rest. The 3.6-mile loop trail lies within the South Green Belt Forest Preserve, traversing wooded areas and open green space interspersed with wetlands.
To reach Turtlehead Lake: From I-294, take the exit for 127th St. and Cicero Ave. near mile marker 12. From I-294 S, head south on Cicero Ave. From I-294 N, turn left onto W. 127th St. and take the very next left onto S. Cicero Ave. After 1.5 miles on Cicero, turn right onto 135th St. and follow it 3 miles. Turn left onto IL 43 S., and in 0.2 mile take a right at the Turtlehead Lake sign. Parking will be visible immediately once you enter the park.
To reach Midlothian Meadows: From I-57, take Exit 348 for US 6 W/W. 159th St. Head 0.2 mile west on W. 159th St., and turn right onto Crawford Ave./Pulaski Road. Take the very next left at W. 155th St. into Midlothian Meadows. Parking is ahead in 0.5 mile.
If you head west from the Turtlehead Lake parking lot on the spur to meet the red trail, be aware that the red trail is closed for construction where the spur intersects the red trail on the map. FPDCC has installed two paved trails to get around the construction that do not appear on the
TrailLink map. If you want to go south on the red trail, take the south (left turn) trail at the end of the parking lot. After traveling a few hundred yards along the south side of the lake you will encounter a spur heading south (left turn.) Take it and the spur will travel southwest avoiding the construction and will link up with the southbound red trail. If you want to go north, take the north (right turn) trail at the end of the parking lot and it will loop around the north side of the lake and hook up with the northbound red trail.
This trail is fun to ride, with plenty of curves and good signage. The pavement needs some refreshing and there are a few too many busy roads to cross for my tastes but I am glad to have discovered this little gem of a trail.
Shady, paved and good signage. Make sure you map out which trail outlet you want to take prior to beginning. Trying to figure it out after coming off an elevation change is not good. Overall we enjoyed this track.
Went on the trail June 24 2020 and enjoyed it although it was being paved. There are a few busy streets to cross but it was still fun with some elevation changes. Will be worth 5 stars when paving is complete.
Best on a cool day because much of the trail is not covered,, it's a nice trail because it's quite unpopulated. But the pavement could use freshening up in areas.
We drove down from the city - not sure we'd do that again, but we enjoyed a nice ride on the long weekend.
This trail is beautiful and great to ride. I bet it's even more beautiful in the fall. Everyone is so pleasant and respectful of each other. Highly recommend this to all.
Absolutely in love with this trail. Great variety of landscapes with pleasant breezy, down hill surprises. We will definitely be returning here - autumn foliage promises a spectacular sight here..
Trail is in good shape with easy access points. Nice variety in landscape. I like that there are inclines and declines - not just another scenic flat surface to ride.
Love this trail. I try to ride it twice a week when time permits. Nice trail with a few inclines, but for the most part they are fun to come down and get a good breeze. Best time to ride if you like speed is in the early mornings.
Very scenic, especially in the fall
We rode this trail for the first time Sept 27, in the evening. Autumn is a good time to ride this trail. It is only half wooded, so I would not like to try it on a bright summer day. We enjoyed the easy ride on asphalt. Scenery changed constantly from woods to prairie and back. Plenty of parking. We parked on 151st St., but there were picnic groves off of Ridgeland where one could park. Rest rooms were typical of Cook County: Small portable toilets. Not many of them around. We rode 12.2 mi. We strayed off the main loop just a bit. Interesting old German immigrant family cemetary on the edge the trail. It is not shown on the map. There is a red trail, and a yellow trail. We followed the red trail except for a few miles off 131st St.
I did the top loop of this trail for the first time today, and I was impressed. It is smooth and fast, with slight inclines here and there. The contrast from the forest, to the prairie, past the lake, and back through the forest is amazing. I would definitely recommend this for a small family or amateur cyclists.
We've ridden this trail several times. If you like a loop, this is a good one. There are open spaces dotted dotted with prairie flowers and wooded patches where you may even see deer. The trails connect together and some street crossings are required. The crossings are well marked with crosswalks. It's mostly flat with a few moderate inclines. All in all very enjoyable and worth the trip.
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