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Old 08-01-2016, 05:35 PM   #1
Shark_Bait88
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North Chicagoland and Southern WI MTB'ers

Anybody in the northern part of Illinois or southern WI mountain bike?

I'm getting back into the sport, picking up a new bike this Wednesday or Thursday, and am wondering about some good places to go riding. Mainly looking for light single track, but wouldn't mind dipping my toe into some more technical stuff too. I grew up riding BMX/dirt jumping in Arizona, and did a little bit of trail riding on my brother's Gary Fisher hardtail before I moved.

Any input/advice is appreciated! Also, if anyone ever wants to go riding, lemme know!


Oh, and as for the new bike I went with the Trek X-Caliber 8. Can't wait to get out riding.

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Old 08-07-2016, 08:46 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Shark_Bait88 View Post
Anybody in the northern part of Illinois or southern WI mountain bike?

I'm getting back into the sport, picking up a new bike this Wednesday or Thursday, and am wondering about some good places to go riding. Mainly looking for light single track, but wouldn't mind dipping my toe into some more technical stuff too. I grew up riding BMX/dirt jumping in Arizona, and did a little bit of trail riding on my brother's Gary Fisher hardtail before I moved.

Any input/advice is appreciated! Also, if anyone ever wants to go riding, lemme know!


Oh, and as for the new bike I went with the Trek X-Caliber 8. Can't wait to get out riding.

Northern Chicagoland here. You have a few options.

The best mountain biking in the region (defined here as within ~2 hours of Chicago) is in the Kettle Moraine state forest up in Wisconsin. There are two sets of trails in particular. The most extensive are the John Muir trails, located just north of the intersection of US 12 and Wisconsin CR-H, in LaGrange, WI. Here's a trail map.

The Muir trails are rolling, with a longer climb here and there, but at the end of the day, we're in the midwest and there are no true mountains. That said these are the best trails around and there's a variety of terrain and topography. Many miles of trail and different loops.

Just north of the Muir trails is the Emma Carlin system. The system of trails there isn't as extensive, but it's a bit more technical with more optional jumps and such. Trail map is here.

The Muir and Carlin trails are connected by a "connector trail", which has parallel singletrack running in both directions. All the Wisconsin trails I just described are one-way and singletrack for their duration.

A bit closer to home, if you're in Chicagoland, is Palos, in the SW suburbs of Chicago. Pulaski Woods (a Cook County forest preserve) is home to the "staging area" for the MTB trails. These trails are not as well maintained as the ones up at Kettle, but they're decent. They're generally a bit easier as well, and people sometimes ride them on cyclocross bikes, if that gives you an idea of the terrain. All in all, decent trails, especially if they're a much shorter drive than Kettle for you.

And, really, that's about it. If you're on the North Shore, there are a few "trails" in the Skokie Lagoons, but they're really not maintained and I got a nasty case of poison-something (much worse than poison ivy) the last time I rode there, and I haven't gone back since.

If you have any questions let me know! Feel free to PM me.

You planning on putting the bike in your 86? I can squeeze mine in with the front wheel off without too much trouble, but it's a bit of a hassle. I ride a 26er hardtail.
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Old 08-08-2016, 08:58 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by carczar87 View Post
Northern Chicagoland here. You have a few options.

The best mountain biking in the region (defined here as within ~2 hours of Chicago) is in the Kettle Moraine state forest up in Wisconsin. There are two sets of trails in particular. The most extensive are the John Muir trails, located just north of the intersection of US 12 and Wisconsin CR-H, in LaGrange, WI. Here's a trail map.

The Muir trails are rolling, with a longer climb here and there, but at the end of the day, we're in the midwest and there are no true mountains. That said these are the best trails around and there's a variety of terrain and topography. Many miles of trail and different loops.

Just north of the Muir trails is the Emma Carlin system. The system of trails there isn't as extensive, but it's a bit more technical with more optional jumps and such. Trail map is here.

The Muir and Carlin trails are connected by a "connector trail", which has parallel singletrack running in both directions. All the Wisconsin trails I just described are one-way and singletrack for their duration.

A bit closer to home, if you're in Chicagoland, is Palos, in the SW suburbs of Chicago. Pulaski Woods (a Cook County forest preserve) is home to the "staging area" for the MTB trails. These trails are not as well maintained as the ones up at Kettle, but they're decent. They're generally a bit easier as well, and people sometimes ride them on cyclocross bikes, if that gives you an idea of the terrain. All in all, decent trails, especially if they're a much shorter drive than Kettle for you.

And, really, that's about it. If you're on the North Shore, there are a few "trails" in the Skokie Lagoons, but they're really not maintained and I got a nasty case of poison-something (much worse than poison ivy) the last time I rode there, and I haven't gone back since.

If you have any questions let me know! Feel free to PM me.

You planning on putting the bike in your 86? I can squeeze mine in with the front wheel off without too much trouble, but it's a bit of a hassle. I ride a 26er hardtail.
I am in Chicagoland, but Evanston. So Kettle Moraine is actually closer to me than Palos. I'm sure I'll hit up both. I've read about a few others nearish to the Chicago area, but it definitely sounds like Kettle Moraine and Palos are the best bets.

I am currently putting the bike in the back (it's a hardtail 29er)



But I'm picking up a slambert hitch and bike rack from a fellow owner who turned his FR-S into a Spec 86 car and moved to Florida. So that should be a much simpler solution. Plus, I'll have a hitch to tow a trailer to the track if I ever decide to build one! haha
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Old 08-08-2016, 09:35 AM   #4
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But I'm picking up a slambert hitch and bike rack from a fellow owner who turned his FR-S into a Spec 86 car and moved to Florida. So that should be a much simpler solution. Plus, I'll have a hitch to tow a trailer to the track if I ever decide to build one! haha
Interesting, I'm very curious to see how that hitch works out with a bike on it! I'd just be nervous about road clearance myself.
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Old 08-08-2016, 11:29 AM   #5
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Interesting, I'm very curious to see how that hitch works out with a bike on it! I'd just be nervous about road clearance myself.
Here it is on his car



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Old 08-14-2016, 11:14 PM   #6
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I used to live right around the corrner from the John Muir trails... Very nice ride. Haven't been on a trail in years... Or even on a bike. Too many hobbies and not enough friends that ride I guess.
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Old 08-26-2016, 03:04 PM   #7
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i have a miata buddy that goes up to kettle a lot. he makes and designs his own parts. so if you see a guy with a miata and some funky looking parts, some R&D is getting done on them.
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