Hop on a trail and ride: long and short bike paths

With cool crisp air on the horizon, autumn is the perfect time for a bike ride and there are many trails and winding paths to peek your senses and keep you engaged and energized.

The North Shore Bike Path, for example, contains miles and miles of woodsy bliss, a great east-west route that connects you to many other north-south trails. The path, which travels between Lake Bluff and Mundelein and parallels Route 176, is one of dozens in the Chicagoland area that links to other trails, making paths like the Robert McClory Bike Path and the Green Bay Bike Trail accessible for longer bike rides. The Green Bay Bike Trail refers to the southern extension of the Robert McClory Bike Path, which is linked in Highland Park. The path weaves together the communities of Highland Park, Highwood, Fort Sheridan, Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, Naval Station Great Lakes, North Chicago, Waukegan, Beach Park, Zion and Winthrop Harbor.

Another great destination is Citizen Park, at the Barrington Park District, which offers miles of bike trails because it also links to the Cuba Marsh, a blend of marsh, woodland and grassland in Lake County. Bicyclists have long enjoyed the miles of trails that take them over rising and falling hills, offering them unmatched marsh and grove views. The trail segment, in the Cuba Marsh, includes a boardwalk and a 50-foot-long timber bridge — created through an anonymous donor contribution of $100,000 as a memorial to Keith Peterson, a past Lake County Forest Preserve member, loyal environmentalist and outdoorsman.

“It is serene and beautiful,” said Teresa Jennings, executive director, Barrington Park District. “This trail and connection was in partnership with Lake County Forest Preserve and the Barrington Park District. The trail winds all around the park and past the Pepper Family Treehouse — the only treehouse of its kind in Illinois that incorporates 2000 square-feet of handicapped-accessible ramps, bringing you up to a cabin in the trees.”

For shorter trails, the Deerfield Park District has a number of bike paths throughout the park system that are suitable for bicyclers.

“Our recently renovated Woodland Park provides a path system throughout and around the perimeter of the 17-acre park,” said Rick Julison, executive director, Deerfield Park District. “Our Briarwood Nature Area and Briarwood Park, encompasses nearly 20-acres of beautiful woods as well as open areas. These two parks provide our longest trails.”

According to Julison, highlights of many of the paths, especially those within the smaller parks, are the amenities designed within the parks: playgrounds, swimming pools, picnic tables, disc golf courses and skate parks.

“Shorter routes for a relaxing bicycle jaunt, or to a playground or other recreation destination, include those at the following parks: Jaycee, Maplewood, Walden, Jewett, Shepard/Keller and Mitchell,” said Julison.

No matter where you decide to have your adventure, chances are, you’ll enjoy yourself and the great outdoors.

Bike. Sweat. Breathe.