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The idea behind S24O tours is that camping and getting out into nature doesn't necessarily take a lot of time or equipment. Sub-24hour-Overnight. You could leave Saturday afternoon and be back by Sunday afternoon and still have time to do laundry.

 

I've never actually done a "true" S24O tour since I've been fortunate enough to have the time to take two days, but I just wanted to highlight places doable to make these kinds of trips happen from Chicago.

 

In that spirit, I've been putting together a Google Map with different camping locations here.

 

Any other shorter bike trips that you've taken, or want to take?  Doing these are great experiences for testing out gear and figuring out if you're interested in doing a longer tour. Where are some locations close enough to Chicago where you've successfully done overnight bike camping trips?

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Last year I tried to do some short-notice overnights at Blackwell County Forest Preserves and Burnidge Forest Preserve in the height of summer and they were booked solid.  Another place that looks interesting is Dellwood Park in Lockport.  Now is the time to do this unless you want to commit far in advance.

 

 

That is a very nice map. Thanks for putting something like that together. I'd be interested in the ones near the south suburbs as I'm moving to Mokena in June.

Thank you for posting this!! what a great resource...

 

These 5 nearby Will County Forest Preserves have limited camping - reservations required

Goodenow Grove - Beecher
Hammel Woods - Shorewood
McKinley Woods - Channahon
Messenger Woods - Lockport
Forsythe Woods - Wilmington

See http://www.reconnectwithnature.org/recreation/camping

 

Some of the sites on your map are a bit far for regular a S24O trip.  Chicago to Lake Le-Aqua-Na or Chicago to Apple River Canyon are roughly 150 miles each way.  Back-to-back 150 milers are pretty tough.  But those campgrounds are in easy reach if you can drive part way and spend one night in a motel.

 

On Friday evening, drive to a convenient starting point and spend the night in a motel.  Arrange in advance to leave your car parked at the motel lot until Sunday afternoon.  Have a good breakfast at the motel, and head out early for your overnight camp.

For example, Rockford to Lake Le-Aqua-Na is only 50 miles out and Rockford to Apple River Canyon is only 60 miles out. 

 

 

 

 

Oh...the ones on the map aren't all necessarily for S24O trips.  I've just been trying to map out camping locations that are relatively close to Chicago. Thanks to the folks who have posted county forest preserve places. I'll get those added in soon!

 

One option that I really like to do is to use the Metra to slingshot out and ride from there.  Some of these locations are still a bit far with that, but could work with doing mini tours.

 

Does anyone know how the camping situations are for weekday camping?  I'm planning on trying to do a bit of that in Late June/Early July and was hoping that I wouldn't have to worry as much about securing reservations.

The Forth of July could cause some trouble, but that's on a monday.

Oh, I'm not planning on camping on the 4th...I'll probably be working.

 

I added all of the locations stated above to the map.  It's great that so many county forest preserves offer camping. It does seem as though the rules can be a bit stringent.

 

If anyone has much experience with stealth camping, I'd love some advice. It would probably be kind of hard around Chicago, and we wouldnt' want to put those locations on a map, but I'm hoping to try it soon!

Kelvin Mulcky said:

The Forth of July could cause some trouble, but that's on a monday.

I'm going to try to do overnights to Channahon and Chain O' Lakes State Parks this summer. A little farther than an S24O trip, but still do-able, I think. I'm trying to get my stuff sorted for a longer trip in September after my work cools down.

 

I don't think either of these campgrounds requires reservations, and I doubt they'd be too busy during the week; they both seem to have a lot of room. I'm looking at weekday camping as well, since I usually have Monday-Tuesday off of work.

I did an overnight trip to Lake Le Aqua Ne last summer.  I caught the metra at Irving Park out until it ends in Hebron then rode the rest of the way along the Grand IL Trail.  It was less than 100 miles through some quiet farmland and a few trails.  The park itself is pretty nice and quiet.

Larry Mysz said:

Some of the sites on your map are a bit far for regular a S24O trip.  Chicago to Lake Le-Aqua-Na or Chicago to Apple River Canyon are roughly 150 miles each way.  Back-to-back 150 milers are pretty tough.  But those campgrounds are in easy reach if you can drive part way and spend one night in a motel.

 

On Friday evening, drive to a convenient starting point and spend the night in a motel.  Arrange in advance to leave your car parked at the motel lot until Sunday afternoon.  Have a good breakfast at the motel, and head out early for your overnight camp.

For example, Rockford to Lake Le-Aqua-Na is only 50 miles out and Rockford to Apple River Canyon is only 60 miles out. 

 

 

 

 

A couple of my favorite destinations.

 

- The Illinois State Beach up in Zion is great and pretty close. You can see my route (and a bunch of other unrelated ones, sorry) here. It's a super easy route and almost entirely bike paths.

 

- Gebhard Woods State Park out near Starved Rock. You take Archer out of the city and get on the I&M Canal path. If you've never taken it, the I&M is beautiful and very low-traffic. Last time I went, we took the Old Plank road trail and Kedzie back into the city. Great route. About 80 miles each way. The park itself is nothing to write home about but there is no car camping going on and it's super cheap. See my route here.

 

I'd love to try Chain O' Lakes some time this summer. There's some great riding out in McHenry County. Lots of Metra Stops out that way too.

Thanks for the maps! Illinois Beach is a nice ride. I'd definitely recommend it for a first bike camping trip. The entire route to get there is extremely close to Metra stations, so it's easy to have a back up in case there are any problems.  There is also a grocery store very close to the park, which makes it easy to cook once you get there.  The park itself is pretty enough.

 

I'm going to have to try Gebhard woods this summer. I'll probably do a weekday ride to there and to Starved Rock in June or July.

 

Chain O'Lakes is just okay in my opinion. The sites are semi-secluded, which is nice, but they are all mostly close to the roads and full of RVs and big vehicle-car campers. I enjoyed canoeing on one trip, which was nice, tough most boats on the water were motor boats. They don't allow swimming anywhere in the park and mosquitos can be kind of bad. It's only about 5 miles from the Fox Lake Metra, which makes it easy to get to that way.  In the autumn, it's really close to a cool cornmaze, which is fun.

rascaltwitch said:

A couple of my favorite destinations.

 

- The Illinois State Beach up in Zion is great and pretty close. You can see my route (and a bunch of other unrelated ones, sorry) here. It's a super easy route and almost entirely bike paths.

 

- Gebhard Woods State Park out near Starved Rock. You take Archer out of the city and get on the I&M Canal path. If you've never taken it, the I&M is beautiful and very low-traffic. Last time I went, we took the Old Plank road trail and Kedzie back into the city. Great route. About 80 miles each way. The park itself is nothing to write home about but there is no car camping going on and it's super cheap. See my route here.

 

I'd love to try Chain O' Lakes some time this summer. There's some great riding out in McHenry County. Lots of Metra Stops out that way too.

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