Palos Forest Preserve - TRAIL

Palos Forest Preserve - Trail, Chicago, Illinois

Without a doubt the best MBing in the Chicago area. Numerous singletrack is available, most being quite technical. Rocks, roots, washouts ,descents and climbs abound. A crushed limestone path winds thru the park area and is suitable for advanced beginners Trails are poorly signed so its hard to find your way around the first several visits. But once you get the lay of the land, Palos is an exciting, fun place to ride.

User Reviews (100)

Showing 1-10 of 100  
Oldtrailrider   Weekend Warrior [Sep 11, 2013]

Best place in NE Illinois and one of the best places in the Midwest to ride single-track.
In 2008, I "rediscovered" Palos and have ridden there about 250 times since then.
I live only a half hour South, so for me it's a very convenient place to ride.
I noticed that there are no recent reviews here, so I thought I should write one.
All together, Palos has roughly 25 miles of single-track and another 25 miles of "multi-track"(8 ft wide, limestone screenings and gravel) for a total of roughly 50 miles of trail over a large area of about 12 - 15 sq. mi. or more.
This Cook County Forest Preserve is close to Chicago and open to the public for free, so there are a lot of trail users --- walkers, runners, and horseback riders, as well as MTB riders of all skill levels. It's really popular on the weekends, but has many fewer people on weekdays.
All the trails are 2-way, so it's important to always be looking for on-coming riders, walkers, etc. It's a good idea to holler out to warn other users at blind corners and on the faster sections. Rarely, there are a few rude riders, but most are pretty courteous and considerate. There are several small parking lots that largely fill up on weekends, but once you get out a mile or 2 on the trail, it really thins out.
The single-track is mostly dirt, so after a rain it gets muddy and is NOT good to ride, not good for your bike and not good for the trail. Go to cambr.org for trail condition reports.

Customer Service

The heart of Palos has about 15 miles of single-track covering an area of about 3 sq, mi. with a big variety of terrain ---- fast flowy and tight twisty single-track, some short steep climbs, technical climbs and descents, longer climbs and descents, plenty of the 3 R's (rocks, roots, and ruts), bermed corners, and ravines. Total elevation difference is about 150 ft or less, so there are no really long climbs or descents.
The main entrance to the best riding is at 95th St. and Wolf Rd, which is the 1st turn South from 95th on the W. side of Maple Lake. There's a dangerous blind curve just West on 95th, so watch out.
Wolf Rd. goes about 1/2 mi. S. to a dead end at Wolf Road Woods parking lot, which is one good place to park. A good way to start your ride is to ride all the way to the west end of the parking lot and keep going straight, which is "Pipeline Trail". From there, you can ride a number of different directions.
If you don't want to get lost, it's best to go to cambr.org (Chicago Area Mountain Bikers) where you can get directions and print-out a trail map.
Trail intersections have number signs and the trail map has the same numbers.

Similar Products Used: Saw Wee Kee, Plainfield Bike Park
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
3
GIANTrider   Weekend Warrior [Jul 10, 2008]

This is my first year trying out mountain biking. I'm pretty athletic and have good balance so I caught on quickly. My first trail-riding experience was at Rock Cut State Park in Rockford, which only tested my endurance. Compared to Palos, it was a walk in the park for me. I usually ride with more advanced MTBers than myself and I always get my butt kicked here! We usually start out at the MTB staging area and hit 3 Ravines right away, making our way up to the blue trail near Bull Lake. There is everything an adventure-seeker could ask for along the way: logs, rocks, tough inclines, fun downhills, and some scenery along the way. It will challenge people of all levels and tire you out, guaranteed! If it has rained recently the mosquitoes can be bad, wear deet and cover yourself well. Otherwise, it's just like any other wooded area; keep moving so those little suckers can't get to you!

Oh yeah, and the signs are just fine! First timers, bring a map with you just in case but there are posts sticking out of the ground (marked and color-coded) at various clearings indicating where the path continues. It is my understanding that such convenient signs are relatively new.
Happy riding!

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
mike   Weekend Warrior [Jul 22, 2007]

The opening info on this trail is 100% accurate. The first sevtral times the signs are hard to follow but after the third visit you should be able to find your way around no problem.

Customer Service

Orange counter clockwise

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
3
rider123   Cross Country Rider [May 15, 2007]

trails keep getting better...rode the new trails yesterday...plenty here to keep you busy all day

Customer Service

My favorite route is...drop in at the bullfrog lake loop from the parking lot ride counter clock wise to grass hill section take that to stair steps down to turf 1 then off of turf 1 take the high road that crosses psycho path around to the hill of death... if your still alive take dynamite road back up to 3 ravines then make your way to gravity cavity take that back up to the parking lot find the yellow section of trail take that down to phase 2,then phase 3, then phase 5, then phase 6, cross willow springs road and you will hit some technical trails if you feel like you're in someones backyard and end up on 171 your on the right trail...now look for a huge hill and climb it then you'll be on phase 4 take that back to 95.th street and head back to bullfrog lake parking lot...oh yeah if you're new get a map otherwise you'll get lost...have fun

Similar Products Used: some other stuff across willow springs road
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
3
Tom   Weekend Warrior [Aug 06, 2006]

I hadn't been here in a couple of years. There have been some great improvements. The trails are better marked and I found some singletrack I had never ridden before - like the Out & Back, which was a fun trail.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
3
JoeDell   Cross Country Rider [Jun 09, 2006]

Outstanding trails and more added every year by dedicated volunteers working with land managers. Here's a map: http://www.bicyclesetc-il.com/cambr/guideElements/maps/PalosMap.gif

Signage has been improved.

Customer Service

Here's more details:
http://www.bicyclesetc-il.com/cambr/guidePages/IL/Palos.html

Similar Products Used: Kettle Moraine above the cheese curtain
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
babba   Cross Country Rider [Nov 26, 2005]

Really Fun Trails!! I live in NY and was amazed at how many hills and how much tech stuff there was. I have to admit, visiting family in Illinois didn't really motivate me to bring my bike. My wife's cousin told me to, and well, I had a blast!!

Customer Service

Go to the left, then the right, then up, then down, what do I know I was lost within 4 minutes!!

Similar Products Used: Knoch Knolls was not even worth mentioning.
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
3
Thomas   Racer [Oct 23, 2003]

Palos Trails If I-55 is flowing, a person can get down there from the city in under 30 minutes. This is a great thing. However the signage is terrible and it is easy to get lost the first few times out. The two way traffic is the real terror here and potentially fatal head ons are a reality. Pay attention and call out often. The steep ravines are fun and are quickly mastered. SO tired of all the logs and down trees. They are fun the first few times but there are so many now that it blows the flow on some of the trails. You hear people say they hand out tickets for being on the illegal trails but I've never witnessed it. Far too crowded on weekends and it seems to draw what I would consider a bit of the squid crowd (no helmets, out of control riders). Don't know the name of it but the low trail that runs along the road is a lot of fun and like to ride that both ways. Plus keep in mind that the entire park is one big nuclear waste and God knows what else is buried out there. Don't drink any of the water from the wells. And too during the summer the mosquitos and flies can be voracious, it's pretty much ground zero for the West Nile virus. But with all that said there is no where else to go where you can get a ride in without commiting to an entire day.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
3
fabtone   [Oct 13, 1998]

This is one of the most fun technical trails that I've come across. I've ridden many trails in WI, IN, KY but
I keep coming back to this one. Many steep root filled descents, logs to hop and tight twisty sections that you dream about at night after you come home from riding. The place is getting a bit worn from use, but currently the trail is being worked on and improved.

Customer Service

Too many to list. You can ride half the day and never ride the same section over. Start at the Bullfrog lake parking lot.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Syrus   [Oct 20, 1998]

Been rideing there for the summer and have not hit all the routes.

Customer Service

All routes are very good some real narelly downhills.

Similar Products Used: Westville in Westville Indiana
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Showing 1-10 of 100  

THE SITE

ABOUT MTBR

VISIT US AT

mtbr.com and the ConsumerReview Network are business units of Invenda Corporation

(C) Copyright 1996-2018. All Rights Reserved.