For a family-friendly ride, what’s a better destination than the zoo? The Bemis Woods Forest Preserve in Western Springs serves as a great starting point for the seven-mile paved trail that will take riders to the Brookfield Zoo along the Salt Creek Trail, with plenty of amenities along the way.
What Makes It Great
The 480-acre forest preserve is situated on either side of Salt Creek, creating a north and south side of the park. Both sides feature amenities for picnicking, and there is a one mile unpaved path for hiking or running. Large shelters can be rented for groups, and there’s a canoe/kayak launch for those interested in paddling.
But for cyclists, the highlight is the paved bike path that runs adjacent to the creek through several other forest preserves before making its way to the zoo.
You won’t find many hills in this part of Illinois, which means that it’s an easy ride for the whole family to enjoy. And while you’re in the middle of a densely populated area, the ribbon of green along the trail definitely gives you the feeling of a natural escape. From Bemis Woods in Western Springs, you’ll go through six forest preserves on route to the zoo.
The Salt Creek trail is considered an excellent birding location, which is home to many migrant song birds, cuckoos, indigo buntings and veeries, according to the Cook County Forest Preserve. Deer are also prevalent. But even if you don’t spot some wildlife along the route, you’ll enjoy the tree-lined paths, which also feature sections of native prairie. Plus it’s the only trail where you’ll have the chance of seeing lions and polar bears.
Who is Going to Love It
Families and cyclists looking for a leisurely ride will enjoy the Salt Creek Trail. Burly trailers and kid-bikes are right at home. There are several crossings of major roads, but they are well marked and safe. For the most part, you have a ride that anyone will enjoy. For cyclists looking for a good workout, the trail isn’t the place for a peleton. West of Beemis Woods, the Salt Creek Trail is part of the 27-mile route that will take riders all the way to the Prairie Path in Villa Park.