It's time to get the bike out. Lucky for riders, the suburbs are full of good trail and road options.
Local choices are flat or mildly hilly and, because of our Midwestern terrain, lacking only in single- and double-track mountain-biking options. Still, some mountain-bike trails exist or are in the works. The Chicago Area Mountain Bikers, www.cambr.org, can help.
This list includes classic, new and improved, and smaller trails, plus beautiful roads, but focuses on paved and crushed-limestone or dirt options where road and hybrid bikes can easily go. Let the daydreaming begin ...
Fox River Trail:It's more than 40 miles long, from Montgomery on the south to Carpentersville on the north, where it blends seamlessly into the Prairie Trail of McHenry County. Mostly paved. You'll love the river views and McHenry County landscapes. More at www.kaneforest.com and www.visitmchenrycounty.com.
Illinois Prairie Path:
Great Western Trail:
Des Plaines River Trail:
Busse Woods Trail:
NEW AND IMPROVED
Poplar Creek Trail:
Algonquin Road Trail:It started along Algonquin Road in Palatine and Hoffman Estates, but Cook County gave this trail about a 7.5-mile paved loop through the Paul Douglas Forest Preserve. What a nice surprise. www.fpdcc.com.
Deer Grove Trail and Palatine Trail:One of the older trails in the Northwest suburbs, the Deer Grove Trail in Palatine offers a simple ride at about 4 paved miles. And you can ride more paved miles through Palatine on the Palatine Trail. Find them near Quentin and Dundee roads.
Hawk Hollow and Mallard Lake forest preserves:If you're from Bartlett, you have easy access to these two forest preserves off Stearns and County Farm roads. They offer pretty rides through the forest and around Mallard Lake, a few miles each on crushed limestone.
West Branch DuPage River Trail:In the Blackwell and Warrenville Grove forest preserves, Warrenville/West Chicago/Winfield: Go off the Illinois Prairie Path at Butterfield Road east of Route 59, and you can ride into this forested area, circling a loop a couple of miles in.
Herrick Lake and Danada:Farther east off Butterfield Road you'll find these forested and lakeside trails, about 4 miles' worth.
Springbrook Prairie, Naperville:About 7 miles of crushed limestone trails, most in a loop, offer a nice ride quite literally through prairie in this preserve between 75th and 87th streets.
ON THE ROADS
Arlington Heights:It's bike-friendly and trying to get bike-friendlier. Map at www.vah.com.
Naperville:You can get a map provided by the city, www.naperville.il.us, where its bike routes are marked. It's easy to get to and from downtown, including via a paved trail along Hobson Road and 75th Street.
Kane County:The western portion of the county is great for more-serious road cyclists. Silver Glen Road, Burlington Road, McDonald Road, Campton Hills Road, LaFox Road, so many.
McHenry County:It gets prettier in the western portion as you go north, like an introduction to Wisconsin's great landscapes. Ride around Oakwood Hills, Prairie Grove, McHenry, Johnsburg, Ringwood, Wonder Lake, Union.
Lake County:The roads can get busy east, but there are options west around Wauconda, Island Lake, Lakemoor, Long Grove and the Barringtons, like Cuba Road, Old McHenry Road, Fairfield Road, Kelsey Road, River Road, Darrell Road and Bonner Road.
For more info
MikeBentley.com: Loads of links to maps and organized rides.
The Active Transportation Alliance, www.activetrans.org: This organization offers an excellent map showing all the bike trails and bike-friendly roads in the suburbs and Chicago.