North Branch Trail Chicago – All You Need to Know Before You Go

One of the greatest gratifications of living in Chicago is cycling the paths, byways, and crossways in the city and surroundings. The North Branch Trail of the Forest Preserves of Cook County (FPCC) is one of the most famous bicycle trails of Chicago. It is 31.5 kilometers comparatively trafficked point-to-point trail located close by Glencoe, Illinois, in Chicago. On your ride to this trail, you can relish a beautiful combination of urban grandeur and a natural environment. 

Besides, this path is excellent for all skill levels, and it is straightforward to navigate. All types of people can find pleasure here, even the inexperienced riders. The North Branch Trail is usually used for running, walking, and road biking and is best utilized in the month of April to October. Also, this trail is open to dogs. However, they should be kept on a leash.

North Branch Trail Chicago – Ride Time

If you plan to bicycle the entire length of the track, it will take you nearly an hour or 40 minutes to cover the whole trail. Additionally, if you are going to ride back, we suggest you plan on doubling that time.

Highlights of Branch Trail


You can derive pleasure from the lush green surroundings while riding along the North Branch Trail. When you first start your journey, you’ll be in city streets; however, that quickly changes into tranquil forests with the sounds of a city left behind. In addition, chances are you might encounter wildlife such as deer by the side of the trail after coming out from the city. Moreover, once you reach Tower Road, you will observe that the trail splits. Instead, it swirls around the Skokie Lagoons so that you can relish a close look at this spectacular conservation effort.

Furthermore, you will discover an equestrian facility at Golf and Harms roads. Besides, nearby the north end of the trail, a Chicago Botanic Garden including more than two dozens of gardens spread on 385 acres is worth a short outing. The Green Bay Trail is another option that you can also take for a ride; it is a busy community path surrounded by shops, parks, restaurants, and residential areas about a mile from the Lake Michigan shoreline, which is also nearby. 

In addition, there are plenty of amenities along the route, including bathrooms, parking lots, and picnic areas. Though there are many road crossings along the way, they are clearly labeled and have electronic buttons for those who wish to cross. 

Trekking at North Branch Trail

If you are a daredevil and enjoy trekking, you can try the paved twist around Skokie Lagoons. The Skokie Lagoons are a 242-acre infrastructure of channels, pools, and wooded islands that amble between Winnetka, Northfield, and Glencoe, providing relief from the daily hustle and bustle. 

The Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s produced the current lagoon system to address and flooding and offer more recreational facilities to Cook Country’s residents and visitors. Starting at Tower Road, climb the 4.4-mile paved loop around the lagoons. You can also pause for a picnic along the way; sheltered areas can facilitate small and large groups. After you complete hiking, jump on the water area where boat rentals are available. 

Aside from this, there is so much to enjoy along the North Branch trail; you can also try to hike from Bunker Hill to Linne Woods, which is nearly 4 miles one way. After decades of habitat restoration, Bunker Hill, Miami Woods, and Linne Woods are expanding. These are the perfect birding sites, and the trail that winds through them switches between the whispering woods and sunny grasslands. So you can have an outstanding and rejuvenating experience by going on hiking beside the trails.

How to reach the North Branch Trail?

Although this is primarily a bike trail, you don’t necessarily need a bike to enjoy it. You are all free to jog or walk if you desire. The track is also pet-friendly as we said above though dogs must be kept on the hook if they accompany you. Moreover, it is not at all difficult to get to the trail. Parking is available near the northern trailhead close to Green Bay Road, while the southern trailhead is in Gompers Park, with parking located near the Cicero. Additionally, Metra stations in Morton Grove, Edgebrook, and Forest Glen can also bring you close to the trail. 

The path between the Green Bay Trail and North Branch Trail welcomes runners, cyclists, and walkers to amuse the Garden at a more relaxed pace. Cyclists must enter the Garden through the path and park at the bicycle stand near the visitor center. Riders on the Metra trains that halt at Braeside station in Highland Park will observe the multi-use way for reaching Garden and returning after their visit. 

To Conclude

We hope now that you learn about the North Branch Trail and how to reach there for bicycle riding or for a trek. So jump on your bike, put on your walking shoes, and explore the Garden from a new perspective without a parking fee. Besides, bring a friend, drag a stroller, or ride your bicycle on the train or bus to discover this exciting trail in Chicago.

Harman K

Harman came to Chicago as a tourist and simply fell in love with the city. A writer by profession, she is on a mission to explore Chicago. She writes about all the good things that she comes across on a daily basis. When not at her desk, you'll find Harman standing in front of a mirror.

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