Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Biking the Poplar Creek Trail

Located in the farthest northwest reaches of Cook County, the paved Poplar Creek Trail loops about 9 miles around Poplar Creek Forest Preserve, passing through scenic forest areas and meadows with numerous terrain changes. A dirt mountain bike/equestrian trail branches off west of route 59 on both sides of Golf Road (Route 58) meandering the western expanses of the forest preserve, from Schaumburg Road to the tollway.

Thirty-plus years ago I remember this area as meadows, pastures, and farm fields. As the forest preserve district gradually acquired the plots over the decades, they and nature have reseeded with trees, and many sections are now well on the way to being "forests of the future" for our children.

The trail winds around and up and down the numerous hills, providing a good workout and ever-changing scenery. Though the trail occasionally gives views of structures and the trail crosses roads often (always at traffic signals so safety is not an issue), you still get a definite feeling of being away from civilization (you even pass several working corn or soybean fields). Mountain bikers can veer off to the west when across Route 59 and follow the several miles of dirt single-track mountain bike/equestrian trails which go all the way to the EJ&E railroad tracks. and are in a more heavily wooded area. You can access these dirt trails by 1) following the gravel double-track northwest at 59/Shoe Factory Road and then crossing Shoe Factory when you reach the railroad tracks, or 2) from the back of the picnic area off Rt. 59, or 3) follow the grass path heading southwest from the Rt. 58/59 intersection.

A number of parking areas provide access to this loop trail, and most have outhouses and water pumps. These parking areas are available from Route 59, Barrington Road, Shoe Factory Road, and Bode Road. The photo below is Bode Lake, off of Bode Road west of Barrington Road, and it has the largest of the preserve's lakes, as well as picnic tables, water, and outhouses. I always see people fishing here, so perhaps there are even fish!

Several moderately lengthy inclines (for Illinois, anyway) cause some to walk their bikes uphill (just call in cross training!) This is one of them, with less than half of the decline visible in this shot. The townhome development below is the only residential development abutting the trail, though residences are sometimes seen off in the distance. One section parallels close to the northwest Tollway (I-90) and several farms can also be seen from the trail.

Here's the map for the trail (click to enlarge.)

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