New mountain biking trails planned for Raceway Woods

A volunteer cycling group has reached an agreement with Dundee Township to allow for the expansion of its trail system in Raceway Woods.

For the past several years, the Chicago Area Mountain Bikers organization has developed about 3.4 miles of natural-surface trails in Kane County's portion of the forest preserve in Carpentersville, CAMBr North President Mike Angus said. The paths, created in four separate phases, are used for biking, hiking, running and other recreational activities.

Formerly the site of a racetrack, Raceway Woods also is partially owned by Dundee Township and some private landowners. Bikers often enter the forest preserve from a parking lot off Huntley Road and ride through the township's property, putting in jeopardy some of its land preservation efforts, Supervisor Trish Glees said.

Township officials last year proposed banning biking in their jurisdiction. But doing so would have eliminated bike access from the southern part of Raceway Woods, which Angus said was impractical.

To resolve the issue, CAMBr now plans to build a path linking the Huntley Road entrance to the group's existing trail network, Angus said. Signs would clearly mark where cycling is permitted, versus the areas in the preserve that would be designated "bike-free zones."

"This is going to be a way for (bikers) to really enjoy the property," Glees said. "We actually did find really the most perfect place for it."

The new trail was designed so it wouldn't infringe upon any sensitive plant species or areas of restoration. The plan has a handful of environmental benefits, Angus said, noting CAMBr will remove invasive species, reduce erosion and clean up trash that has accumulated in that area of the woods.

"We do a lot more than just building the trails," he said.

The plan was developed by a biking subcommittee comprising CAMBr and township representatives, as well as some residents. The township board voted Jan. 16 to approve the proposal, which now will go before the Kane County Forest Commission.

If the measure is approved at the county level, CAMBr volunteers likely will begin building the trail in late spring or early summer, Angus said. The project will cost about $4,000, which is covered entirely by the cycling nonprofit.

The trail will have an outer loop designed for beginner and intermediate mountain bikers, while a middle section would appeal to more advanced riders, Angus said.

"It can appeal to a broader range of riders," he said. "You really have to create that appeal to give riders a viable option and an attractive option."

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