Best forest trails in Chicago, Illinois

265 Reviews
Explore the most popular forest trails near Chicago with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.
Map of forest trails in Chicago, Illinois
Top trails (8)
#1 - LaBagh Woods Nature Observation Loop
Chicago, Illinois
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Length: 5.7 mi • Est. 2 h 18 m
This area features an abundance of wildlife inside the city limits: deer, owls, coyotes, turtles, and squirrels. The trail is well maintained. The traffic noise somehow gets trapped before making its way to the woods from the interstate, which makes this particular "escape from the city" that much more appealing.Show more
#2 - Lincoln Park Trail
Lincoln Park
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Length: 5.5 mi • Est. 2 h 16 m
After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 decimated much of Lincoln Park, the residents got to work rebuilding. Today, Lincoln Park is a fabulous display of Victorian architecture. Visitors to the park can also take advantage of numerous free attractions such as the Lincoln Park Zoo, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Lincoln Park Conservatory, and Alfred Caldwell Lilly Pool. Those looking to take a dip should head to North Avenue Beach where bathers report some of the warmer waters of Lake Michigan. Show more
#3 - West Ridge Nature Preserve
West Ridge Nature Preserve
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Length: 1.0 mi • Est. 25 m
Who knew such a jewel, undeveloped for 100 years, existed close to the busy intersection of Peterson and Western Avenues. 20 acres of woods surround a 4-acre pond to watch hawks, herons and foxes as well as spotting the occasional wood duck or coyote. A decade ago plans were in the works to convert this wilderness into a retail area. In 2005, a congressional earmark funded the acquisition of this land from Rosehill Cemetery. The acquired land was transferred to the Chicago Park District in 2011. The park district's renovation has transformed this wilderness into the West Ridge Nature Preserve, an oasis of native flora and fauna. Accessibility: This trail is estimated to have a slope of 0-5% meaning it will be mostly gentle across the route. The trail surface is paved with asphalt and concrete for most of the route with some packed gravel and wooden boardwalk sections. Users have noted that some portions may have some over growth of the vegetation but trail goers should find this trail navigable. Show more
#4 - Columbia Basin, Wooded Island, Jackson Park Lagoon
Jackson Park
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Length: 1.7 mi • Est. 41 m
#5 - Washington Lagoon Loop
Washington Park
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Length: 1.2 mi • Est. 29 m
#6 - Bobolink Meadow Trail
Jackson Park
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Length: 0.8 mi • Est. 20 m
The Bobolink Meadow is an actively managed Chicago Park District Nature Area in Jackson Park on Chicago's South Side. The northern portion of the meadow is being managed to create a native woodland habitat, and the open southern area is managed to create a tall grass prairie habitat.Show more
#7 - Lakefront Trail: Jackson Park to Grant Park
Grant Park
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Length: 8.6 mi • Est. 3 h 27 m
#8 - Palmer (John McAuley) Square Park Loop
Palmer (John McAuley) Square Park
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Length: 0.6 mi • Est. 13 m
This park is named after John McAuley Palmer (1817 – 1900), a lawyer and Civil War General who served as the 15th Governor of Illinois, and as a United States Senator.Show more