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Des Plaines Trail to Illinois Prairie Trail to Noon Whistle

I am riding to Noon Whistle Brewery tomorrow with a few friends, but it looks like there is no DP trail south of North Ave that hooks up to the Ill Prairie Trail.  I am starting at Montrose. Do any of you have any tips on a route?  Is Thatcher safe?

Any info would be appreciated, Google Maps does not give me a reasonable route.

Thanks in advance!

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Side bar on this Apie, if you like a Pale Ale, their Cosmo Pale Ale is tasty.  If acquired locally from the store such as Binny's, the whole top of the can comes off, it's like getting your own aluminum cup.  Not sure the best route, but let us know how the whole route and experience there works out!

I'll check it out!

It's been about 3 years but I have been on the DP "trail" south of North Ave to about Chicago. The bridge over the river at North Ave is abandoned rail and has been rainbow painted and an apparently popular teen hangout spot.

As per the trail, I would call it more like following a game trail through the woods, but it was obvious enough. Definitely not paved or graded gravel path like up north.  Next to a river in as populated an area as Chicago, there are always going to be dirtbag trails.  Unadvised if wet or in rainy season but tomorrow it should be as good as it gets.  Try it and report back your results, I'm curious.

As a bailout, Thatcher is not good.  Narrow, winding road and fast traffic.  I would advise taking a sidestreet west to 25th Ave, which is itself not going to win any cycling route awards, but will get you over the massive rail yard and to the Prairie Path in Maywood.  It has wide, elevated sidewalk if you get nervous but Sat. traffic should not be so bad.  I would also stay alert if you see groups of grade/jr high/high school kids nearer to Maywood.  I have had rocks thrown at me in the past from across 25th street.

Why is Thatcher not good?  I just spoke with a coworker who lives in River Forest and rides into the loop, he said it is residential, it will work, but has a lot of potholes.  Is Thatcher sketchy like Damen and Western, or sketchy like Milwaukee?

As of now I plan on catching Thatcher at North, to Washington, to 5th to the Path.

Does anyone know when the pavement ends/starts on the Prairie path?  I've never been.

Another thought, if you want to avoid that sketchy section of the DPT is to use the #90-Harlem CTA bus, which will take you directly to the Forest Park Green Line Terminal where the Prairie Path begins...east of the Des Plaines River.  And you could ride the Prairie Path right across the Des Plaines River on the new bike bridge, and through Maywood without any street riding!

The #90 bus originates at the CTA Blue Line terminal, just south of the JFK Expressway.  You could come off the DPT and ride Higgins for instance, a few blocks east to Harlem, cross I-90, and load your bike on the bus.

When you alight and retrieve your bike at River Forest, ride west through the parking lot and you'll see the Prairie Path begin on the west side of the parking lot.  Looks like a cool ride.  Good luck!

Just a note that the Path starts at the Forest Park Blue Line terminal, not the Harlem Green Line terminal.  

The ride to NWB was SO NICE!  Des Plaines trail from Montrose to North Ave was super fun, smooth single/double track and no mud!  Well, probably a lot more mud today.  Thatcher was beautiful.  It reminded me of some streets in the Wilmette area.  It was 4 of us so the cars were sticking to the inside lane and gave us lots of space.  The speed limit was 25, so it wasn't scary..I can see it being more dangerous during rush hour with only one cyclist, but I would go as far as say that Thatcher is worth seeking out due to the beauty of the houses, river to the west, and nice smooth curvy road.  We took Washington west to 5th, then south to the Illinois Path.  On the way back we took the Path east to 1st.  1st would be scary (for some who don't like riding with cars), we rode the sidewalk north to Washington (2-3 blocks) then got back on the road to Thatcher.  Thatcher northbound was one lane with parking, but no cars were parked so that was smooth sailing as well.

The Illinois path was amazing...I like the crushed limestone more than the paved sections!  Maywood to Bellwood was some cute smaller houses that spilled into Villa Park then mcmansions of Elmhurst.  Some giant beautiful houses lined the path.  Noon whistle beer is worthy; I'm more of a scotch guy but I enjoyed it.  They don't have food at the brewery so we had Firewater BBQ deliver.  I highly suggest riding out to Lombard if you like beer.  I will def do it again.

Just curious, what tires were you running?  Non-bike question but trip related, what was your favorite beer there?

1. Conti Four Seasons 93 psi front and rear

2. Twisted Reality

Apologies for the late reply!

Thanks for this mini report: sounds great!

For anyone wanting to do the Illinois Prairie Path, I think it's worth mentioning that the Path starts almost directly behind the Forest Park Blue Line stop, which is the western end of the Blue Line.  Once you know how to do it, it's very easy to ride the Blue Line out and just get on the Path with little to no riding in traffic.   

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