As spring begins to bloom, thoughts turn to getting outside more. Nothing compares to the vision of flowers bursting onto the scene and the sounds of birdsong filling the air. But with the new safety rules of social distancing in place, we need to find space to roam and exercise while keeping apart. Many of Chicago’s North Shore parks, preserves, and trails can remain open as long as everyone honors the guidelines in place to protect us. Stay up-to-date on the latest public health guidance from the CDC and the State of Illinois, before heading out. Check out these spacious areas with biking and running/walking paths as you stretch your legs, renew your senses, and find a bit of peace. Bring the dog!
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You can find more information on COVID-19 Resources here.
Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park McCormick Blvd. between Touhy & Dempster St., Skokie Two glorious miles of easily-accessible park runs right along the North channel of the Chicago River. This unique, free facility combines recreational features with an outstanding exhibition of more than 70 large-scale contemporary sculptures. New sculptures have been added as recently as a few months ago, so even if you have visited before it’s a good time to check it out. The bike and running trail can get busy at times, so wander the grassy areas to keep a safe distance. Three free parking lots along the route are well-marked.
Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park, Skokie
Skokie Lagoons Multiple Locations
The 894-acre Skokie Lagoons are a prime destination for some open air with plenty of biking and hiking trails. The seven inter-connected lagoons include multiple locations in which to spread out: Erickson Woods, Tower Road, Tower Road Boat Launch, and Forest Way Grove. Part of the North Branch Trail System, you can explore paved and unpaved trails along approximately 20 miles of the North Branch of the Chicago River, making it a premier biking route in the northern suburbs. In this critical habitat for wildlife you might spot migrating ducks, herons, cormorants, as well as coyotes, mink, and foxes.
Skokie Lagoons, Multiple Locations
Forest Preserves of Cook County Various Locations The unpaved Des Plaines Trail follows its namesake river through more than a dozen forest preserves across approximately 28.4 miles where you can enjoy casual strolls, full-day adventures, and anything in between. Connecting Chicago to the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, the North Branch Trail System includes trail loops through ecological restoration sites with diverse native wildlife. Access this system in Glenview, Northbrook, Wheeling, and several other cities across Chicago’s North Shore. See their Recommended Hikes to map out your excursion.
Green Bay Trail Various Locations Scout out the Green Bay Trail corridor, an asphalt path that runs approximately 2.24 miles through the Village of Winnetka, from Kenilworth to Glencoe. It then extends parallel to the Metra North line for a total of nine miles up to Highland Park. A narrow strip of limestone screenings on the east side of the path provides an alternate surface for all trail users, from walkers to joggers to cyclists. Mile markers, benches, and bike racks are located along the trail, as are wildflower gardens. The gentle trail is suitable for even the youngest of riders but use caution at road crossings and the small sections of road riding.
Green Bay Trail, Glencoe
Evanston Lakefront Path Various Locations in Evanston With stunning views of the Chicago Skyline and several parks all along Lake Michigan, Evanston’s lakefront paths are a great place to run, rollerblade, or ride your bicycle. A particular gem, Dawes Park, abuts the south end of the Northwestern University campus and features Arrington Lagoon with its fountains and ducks. To get to the shore, use Evanston’s network of bike paths and bike lanes. Check out the City of Evanston Bike Map with protected lanes and off-street paths marked.