Friday, August 31, 2012

Biking Salt Creek Greenway Trail

The Salt Creek Trail runs 26 miles from Busse Woods in Elk Grove Village to Brookfield Zoo.  This is the northern extreme of the trail in Busse Woods (Ned Brown Forest Preserve) just west of Arlington Heights Road near the dam that creates Busse Reservoir.

When I biked the Salt Creek Trail over 20 years ago, only the eight miles from Brookfield through Bemis Woods was available, but over the last decades, additional segments were opened and then these were joined together, sometimes with actual trail alongside the road, or with bike lanes on a road, or just with signs directing you on a road to the next segment of actual trail, which works except when one of those vital signs is missing (as two were on my recent ride.)

The trail is a successful cooperative effort between numerous governmental entities, including the Cook County and DuPage Forest Preserve Districts, and the towns /cities of Oak Brook, Villa Park, Elmhurst, Wood Dale, Itasca, and Elk Grove Village.

Sorry, but the best way to get you to the other end of the trail is verbally, so print this out for reference as you bike (or take notes.)  Here are the directions, and from them you'll see why this is a trail I did once only.

Starting in Busse Woods from the forest preserve parking lot off Arlington Heights Road (take it into the preserve, turn left, and drive to end of the road and you'll be parked at the start of the trail.)  It only goes to Arlington Heights Road, from which you have to cross the road, ride down West Elk Grove Blvd. past the high school, turn right on Ridge which becomes Mittel after crossing Devon. Turn right on Bauman Court  and drive through the lot for the college.  The trail resumes at the end of the parking lot.

You'll pass two reservoirs and then the trail makes a right turn (go left and bike around a really deep reservoir for a little side trip.)  You'll then turn left and bike alongside Prospect Avenue for 2 blocks and then the trail resumes on your left, soon crosses Irving Park Road (Route 19) on a marvelous overpass, and runs beneath power towers for a while (the overpass and power towers are in the photo below)...

...crosses Potter, tuns right, and then watch for a sign to turn you left (the arrow was missing when we did it and got us lost.)  This left is onto a paved path, but the path also goes straight here -- very confusing with the missing sign. You'll be taken to Brookwood (or Prospect if you miss this turn.) Either way, turn right on the second street, Forest Preserve Drive, bike to Addison Road and cross it and the trail resumes there as a path alongside Addison for the better part of a mile as you then go under the Eisenhower Expressway (I-290.)


You then bike the forest preserve for a couple miles on a gravel trail, and then at traffic lights, cross both West Lake/Route 20 and Villa Avenue, and the trail continues through preserve woods. After the underpass at Fullerton, you'll go alongside 3 reservoirs and can bike either side of them, and then go under North Avenue (Route 64.)

Another street segment then, on or alongside Villa Avenue, cross the triple railroad mainline, and a few blocks later turn left on Thomas which ends in a few blocks at the trail continuation.  It takes you under St. Charles Road, and then where it ends at Wildwood, turn right, go one block, and turn left on Monterey (another missing sign.)  You'll then turn left onto the Great Western/Illinois Prairie Path to cross Route 83/Kingery Hwy. on an overpass, another over Salt Creek, and turn left onto Rex Blvd. which you take  to its end, turn right, and get on a dirt/wood chip trail along the creek.  It again turns to pavement and runs to Eldridge Park where you'll again cross the creek, turn left on Commonwealth Blvd. and cross Butterfield Road (Route 56) at the light. Kind of gnarly here -- you ride against the northbound traffic on a poorly paved shoulder for a block and turn left through a parking lot to the trail continuation.

An underpass beneath Roosevelt Road (Route 38) and then a 180 degree ramp to an overpass gets you over the creek and onto a frontage road to York Woods where you turn right onto the bike trail again. When you emerge from the woods, you exit the driveway, cross Harger/Frontage Road, and a paved trail goes left to an overpass above I-88.

Follow the paved trail along York Road quite a distance, cross 31st, and then turn left onto Canterbury. At its end, the trail continues and takes you under I-294. Continue to Edgewood Avenue (don't take the spur trail to the right) and cross 31st again to the continuation of the trail. It takes you to Cermak where you use the light to cross LaGrange Road.  It is trail all the way to the end at McCormick at Brookfield Zoo's parking lot.

 Here's a picture of the eponymous Salt Creek from one of the many bridges spanning it along the trail...

Fortunately, many of the worst road crossings and handled by underpasses and overpasses...

Here's a really good blow-by-blow description of the trail's strange development and progression over the years:  Salt Creek Greenway Trail Finally A Reality!

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