Ride 20: Going to the Garden

  Biking Illinois: 60 Great Road Trips and Trail Rides  

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Morton Grove, IL           August 18, 2005 & September 2, 2005

NOTE: The North Branch Trail has been resurfaced since these pictures were taken. These photos do not reflect current trail conditions (thank goodness!).

Oddly enough, the most familiar trails were the hardest to write about. I wouldn't say that familiarity breeds contempt, but it does breed inattention. I've pedaled the North Branch Trail so many times that my powers of observation were dulled. I should have taken many more photos along this scenic trail.

I also had a hard time deciding where to start this ride. Many Chicagoans are familiar with the entire trail, if not as the " North Branch Trail" then as " the bike path to the Botanic Garden." Most ride to  the beginning of the trail on the northwest corner of Devon Avenue and Peterson Avenue in Chicago's Edgebrook neighborhood. While beginning at mile marker zero is nice, the area doesn't have a surplus of parking, and the intersection of Devon & Peterson is very busy.  The next option is Bunker Hill Woods, the first large picnic and parking area along the trail. The problem there is that the parking area is so extensive that it might  be hard to identify a starting point. And having personally missed  the entrance a couple of times, I didn't want to risk readers doing the same. In the end, I decided to start at Linne Woods on Dempster Street because it is convenient to two interstate highways, has ample parking, and is easy to spot.  Riders are welcome to start anywhere along the trail, of course, and the North Branch Trail is not difficult to follow.

The entrance to Linne Woods is just east of this sign, which is on the north side of Dempster.

Cook County installed map signs on major trails not long before I rode them for Biking Illinois. For this ride, the map is an ideal starting location. I should have taken a photo showing the surroundings of the sign, but riders shouldn't have any trouble finding it.

Keep an eye out for these low barriers. Even though Cook County was sued after someone was injured by a similar obstruction, some of these still exist.


I think this concrete post marks the Cook County Forest Preserve District's boundaries.


The trail passes the man-made Skokie Lagoons.


When the trail splits just south of Tower Road, go right on this path.

Follow the curve to the left at this junction near Dundee Road.

To visit the Chicago Botanic Garden, turn right and wait for the " walk" signal to go across Dundee Road.


Congratulations, you just saved yourself the $20 parking fee by riding your bike!



After visiting the Chicago Botanic Garden, return south across Dundee Road and follow the fork to the right.

Here is another view of the Skokie Lagoons, this time north of Tower Road.

Most of the hills on the North Branch Trail are gentle like this one.

This isn't on the ride as described in the book, but a sidetrip to Somme Woods reveals these monuments to the Civil Conservation Corps men who created the Skokie Lagoons during the 1930s.



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