New member here. My wife, two sons, and I are moving back to the Midwest next year after 17+ years away, and I was happy to come across this site to help answer some questions that I have about cycling options in the Chicago area.
We've been in California most of our time away (mostly SF/Oakland..Sacramento the last 18 months) and have been spoiled for cycling options (Oakland especially). While I realize hills are going to be hard to come by near Chicago, I'd like to have a decent two to three hour ride without a lot of congestion/stoplights close to our new home if possible. We're looking at Oak Park/Forest Park/River Forest along with Andersonville/Edgewater but leaning towards Oak Park.
Are the Prairie and Des Plaines River trails the main/only good options near Oak Park? And are they generally not so congested that you can ride at a healthy clip (20+ mph)?
If we do end up in Andersonville/Edgewater, is the lakefront path north of there generally not too congested as well -- even on weekends?
Thanks, clp, Alex and Brian. The North Branch path looks just like what I was hoping for. (Our kids are two and five, by the way.) Might need to start looking more closely at some of the neighborhoods/suburbs on the north side of the city.
The North Branch Trail has several crossings of car-choked streets.
As always, try before you buy. Caveat Emptor and all that.
The North Branch Trail is pretty nice.Street crossings may require some caution. Bonus at the end of a longer ride - the Botanic Garden.
You're much more likely to find uncongested areas west of the city. The Fox River Trail is another good one.
There are a lot of fairly quiet streets in Oak Park. River Forest is beautiful and uncrowded. Riverside and Berwyn are also very nice.
There is a pretty significant incline on the North Branch Trail, actually. I rode that for the first and so far only time about a year ago, right after the World Series. (I plan to go back, just haven't had a chance. I live in Edgewater myself so I need to practically dedicate an entire day to get there.) I was particularly proud of myself because, despite my obesity, while many cyclists in much better shape than me would dismount their bikes when going uphill, I stayed on and pedaled. :)
FWIW, the Lakefront Trail has some nice views, and usually in the fall it's not too congested.