Mountain biking may seem like a tough activity when there are no mountains to be found, but Chicago is surrounded by several options that are surprisingly solid. And if you’re willing to throw the bikes on the car and drive to Wisconsin or Michigan, the options become downright impressive.
The best Chicago-area option is the Palos Trail System, which features nine trails of varying degrees of difficulty, with plenty of singletrack mixed in with some multi-track roads. The Deer Grove Forest Preserve in Chicago’s northern suburbs offers nearly 10 miles of off-road trails in addition to several miles of paved routes that have made this a popular escape. Hidden among the ball-fields in Naperville is Knoch Knolls Park, a small but very fun wooded park that features some great tree-lined singletrack off the paved DuPage River Trail. Less interesting but very utilitarian is the Illinois Prairie Path, which features 62 miles of mostly crushed limestone trails that connect more than a dozen municipalities west of the city.