Friday, August 21, 2015

Biking Busse Reservoir in Cook County

Busse Reservoir, also known as Ned Brown Forest Preserve, is operated by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County as part of its 69,000 acre holdings. Busse is located between the northwest Chicago suburbs of Elk Grove Village and Schaumburg, directly east of the famous Woodfield Shopping Mall area. Several entrances are available, mostly off of both sides of Higgins Road, between Arlington Heights Road on the east and I-290 on the west. The paved 7.5 mile trail loops around Busse Reservoir south of Higgins and through the woods on the north side of Higgins, where it passes Elk Grove Village's signature elk herd located in a large fenced area. Two bridges convey you safely over Higgins road.

Fall is a special time in these woods as seen below. The trail is paved the entire distance and in good repair, and several access trails can add some mileage for you. The longest access trail starts just at the bottom of the western-most overpass on the north side of Higgins Road. The paved side trail can get you to both Woodfield Mall and The Streets of Woodfield shopping areas, or continue another mile-plus and you'll arrive at the northern end of the preserve at Golf Road and the Tri-State Tollway overpass. There's a great Portillo's Restaurant there featuring fantastic beef, sausage, and hot dog sandwiches and much more.

If you look closely at the left side of the next photo, you'll see the black fencing surrounding the 14 acre elk enclosure. There are about 20 elk in residence here, and you generally can find some near the fence.

The northeast corner of the preserve has Elk Grove Village's namesake elk herd, seen here.  You'll often find the elk near the fence as you bike past. Feeding of the elk is prohibited as the animals are on special veterinarian determined diets.

Below is the official trail map. The red trail is the loop and the black trail is the access trail I mentioned above.

A bridge takes the trail over Higgins at the eastern side of the loop, and in recent years (following a tragic fatal accident that killed a biker) an overpass was also built for the western crossing of the busy Higgins Road.

The trail on the north side of Higgins Road travels through lovely forest. Numerous walkers and in-line skaters also utilize the trail, so be alert on blind curves, and on weekends the trail can be extremely crowded, so much so that I avoid it on weekends.

The lake and its various bays are on the southern side of Higgins and the trail crosses these fingers of the lake on short bridges as seen below. There are always fishermen around these bridges (and they often fish from the bridge), so be careful in these areas. Waterfowl are generally visible as you bike this section, including great blue heron and egrets. If you are a paddler or sailboat enthusiast, small craft are allowed and there are ramps for access to the lake. Make sure you have an up-to-date boat registration because they sometimes check.

Here are a few more fall shots to whet your appetite!

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