Without a doubt the best MBing in the Chicago area. Numerous singletrack is available, most being quite technical. Rocks, roots, washouts ,descents and climbs abound. A crushed limestone path winds thru the park area and is suitable for advanced beginners
Trails are poorly signed so its hard to find your way around the first several visits. But once you get the lay of the land, Palos is an exciting, fun place to ride.
Summary: Best place in NE Illinois and one of the best places in the Midwest to ride single-track.
In 2008, I "rediscovered" Palos and have ridden there about 250 times since then.
I live only a half hour South, so for me it's a very convenient place to ride.
I noticed that there are no recent reviews here, so I thought I should write one.
All together, Palos has roughly 25 miles of single-track and another 25 miles of "multi-track"(8 ft wide, limestone screenings and gravel) for a total of roughly 50 miles of trail over a large area of about 12 - 15 sq. mi. or more.
This Cook County Forest Preserve is close to Chicago and open to the public for free, so there are a lot of trail users --- walkers, runners, and horseback riders, as well as MTB riders of all skill levels. It's really popular on the weekends, but has many fewer people on weekdays.
All the trails are 2-way, so it's important to always be looking for on-coming riders, walkers, etc. It's a good idea to holler out to warn other users at blind corners and on the faster sections. Rarely, there are a few rude riders, but most are pretty courteous and considerate. There are several small parking lots that largely fill up on weekends, but once you get out a mile or 2 on the trail, it really thins out.
The single-track is mostly dirt, so after a rain it gets muddy and is NOT good to ride, not good for your bike and not good for the trail. Go to cambr.org for trail condition reports.
Recommended Route: The heart of Palos has about 15 miles of single-track covering an area of about 3 sq, mi. with a big variety of terrain ---- fast flowy and tight twisty single-track, some short steep climbs, technical climbs and descents, longer climbs and descents, plenty of the 3 R's (rocks, roots, and ruts), bermed corners, and ravines. Total elevation difference is about 150 ft or less, so there are no really long climbs or descents.
The main entrance to the best riding is at 95th St. and Wolf Rd, which is the 1st turn South from 95th on the W. side of Maple Lake. There's a dangerous blind curve just West on 95th, so watch out.
Wolf Rd. goes about 1/2 mi. S. to a dead end at Wolf Road Woods parking lot, which is one good place to park. A good way to start your ride is to ride all the way to the west end of the parking lot and keep going straight, which is "Pipeline Trail". From there, you can ride a number of different directions.
If you don't want to get lost, it's best to go to cambr.org (Chicago Area Mountain Bikers) where you can get directions and print-out a trail map.
Trail intersections have number signs and the trail map has the same numbers.
Other recommended trails in the same area: Saw Wee Kee, Plainfield Bike Park
Summary: Really Fun Trails!! I live in NY and was amazed at how many hills and how much tech stuff there was. I have to admit, visiting family in Illinois didn't really motivate me to bring my bike. My wife's cousin told me to, and well, I had a blast!!
Recommended Route: Go to the left, then the right, then up, then down, what do I know I was lost within 4 minutes!!
Other recommended trails in the same area: Knoch Knolls was not even worth mentioning.
Review Date October 23, 2003
Overall Rating 4 of 5
Aerobic Difficulty 3 of 5
Technical Difficulty 4 of 5
Ridden Trail: Once a week
Visitors rate this review 5.00 of 5,
Reviewed by: Thomas
Summary: Palos Trails
If I-55 is flowing, a person can get down there from the city in under 30 minutes. This is a great thing. However the signage is terrible and it is easy to get lost the first few times out. The two way traffic is the real terror here and potentially fatal head ons are a reality. Pay attention and call out often. The steep ravines are fun and are quickly mastered. SO tired of all the logs and down trees. They are fun the first few times but there are so many now that it blows the flow on some of the trails. You hear people say they hand out tickets for being on the illegal trails but I've never witnessed it. Far too crowded on weekends and it seems to draw what I would consider a bit of the squid crowd (no helmets, out of control riders).
Don't know the name of it but the low trail that runs along the road is a lot of fun and like to ride that both ways. Plus keep in mind that the entire park is one big nuclear waste and God knows what else is buried out there. Don't drink any of the water from the wells. And too during the summer the mosquitos and flies can be voracious, it's pretty much ground zero for the West Nile virus. But with all that said there is no where else to go where you can get a ride in without commiting to an entire day.
Review Date June 6, 2003
Overall Rating 3 of 5
Ridden Trail: Once a month
Visitors rate this review 3.00 of 5,
Reviewed by: GregR
, from Carol Stream, IL
Summary: For the Chicago area, its good but compared to what else is out there...its less than average. Good place to bring beginners, and get them hooked on MTBing. There are a fair amount of illegal trails that are decent, but they are short and if you get popped by the man, be prepared to fork over $75 or $80 (not sure what the penalty is). Most of the legal trails are pretty smooth, and ridden a lot. Be wary of head on collisions because the trails see lots of bikers, even during the week. The weekend mornings are the busiest. The whole closed trail thing really is a bad situation, the FPD has their head up thier a$$, and CAMBR is just about the only group willing to put up with the politics. I give them kudos for it, but it really has not gotten any trails there opened up. Turf1 was built by them, good job. Compared how many trails got closed with the one trail they have opened in the last 4 or 5 years and you can see that they really are not effective. But again, they are the only groupd really doing anything about it. Who know's if anyone else is capable. The existing legal trails need to be connected with good narrow track. The illegal trails were closed basically because of a few problem spots on them. I say fix or reroute the trouble spots, it would make a world of difference, just dont close every trail that gets a puddle on it! Dont drink the water there, there is nuclear waste buried in a few locations. There are much better trails in the area (although they are very short), but nobody is going to show them to you because that would just get them closed and patrolled by the FPD. If its wet, stay away, you wont enjoy it and it will tear the trails up. 3 stars.
Recommended Route: Start at Bullfrog or Wolf Road woods, and ride all the trails in both directions.
Other recommended trails in the same area: Go down to the Peoria area, good trails there. Kettle Morraine is about the same as Palos, only longer, and less technical.