IL Lake County Zion Beulah Park Trails
Beulah Park Mountain Biking and Hiking Trails
Heavily wooded city park running along a ravine and small creek with a section of paved bike path and about 5 miles of single-track trails frequented by local mountain bikers and BMXers.
- Terrain / Scenery: Asphalt path and natural singletrack trails in wooded ravine running along small creek.
- Fees / Permits: None
- Trail Conditions: Trail conditions are now updated at http://cambr.org/SMF/index.php?topic=2018.0
- Trail Markings: Unmarked
- Official Web Page: Various pages on http://cambr.org and a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/beulahparknaturearea
- Getting There: Park is located in Zion, Illinois a couple of miles south of the Wisconsin state line. See overview map at the bottom of this page for specific location. Google Maps link to Beulah Park]
At about a half mile by a quarter mile in size, Beulah Park in Zion, Illinois would seem like a typical city park. But hidden within the woods (most of the park is wooded) is a web of trails running through the ravine (Kellogg Ravine) along a small creek (Kellogg Creek). These trails have sort of been adopted (and in some cases created) by local mountain bikers and BMXers drawn to this park by the terrain of the ravine.
IMPORTANT UPDATE 2013 The mountain bike trails in Beulah Park have become "official" and are now managed by CAMBr (Chicago Area Mountain Bikers). Trail work started in May of 2013. See Map notes below for more info on trail changes. More information available at http://cambr.org/SMF/index.php?topic=25576.0
Map Notes: I'm revising the map as trail work is being completed. The singletrack hiking/mountain biking trails are all shown in Red on the map. Everything bright Red on the map is in pretty good shape and is rideable, this is a combination of old existing trail and new trail created by CAMBr, some new trail may be a bit soft and bumpy until it gets ridden in. The sections of Red Trail with the dark shading (they may look almost brown on the map depending on your screen)represent trails that have not gotten much use and are overgrown and may be difficult to follow. I also show some of the dead-end trails on the map as darker shaded red. For the most part, the dark shaded trails are shown just for navigation purposes since you will see the intersections, but they are not being maintained and will likely disappear eventually.
Navigating the trails.
There are no trail markers and while my map should help a little to give you a general idea of the trails, this is one of those systems that you just need to spend some time on to get a feel for it.
The asphalt paved bike path running through the center of the park (shown in Black on the map) provides access to all trails. There's a bridge (see photo at top of page) that crosses the ravine in the middle of the park. On the east end of the bridge there are trails heading off either side of the paved bike path that provide access to the two largest groups of trails.
The group of trails north of the bike path and creek' were the first to be cleaned up by the CAMBr trail crews. The trail through the inland area was a real mess in recent years but now is cleaned up and much easier to follow. This makes for a nice XC loop through this area with some tight twisty trail through the wooded areas away from the creek, and fun rolling trail along the creek. There is now a marked Easy trail in this area (shown White on map). The Easy trail is currently the only marked trail in this system.
The trails south of the bike path and north of the creek have a little bit of everything. There are numerous short but steep hills here and various bumps, jumps, drops, and tree hops. This is a great place to start because there are quite a few trails, a lot of nice technical stuff, and it's pretty hard to get lost in here as the trails frequently run back to the paved bike path. Because of all the little bumps, jumps, and hills in this area, you'll find you will want to run certain sections multiple times, which is very easy to do given all the little connectors. There are a variety of BMX-type jumps (singles and doubles) scattered throughout this area. I'm told some of these will be made "legal" but will probably be converted from doubles to tabletops. There are also plans for some other fun features.
It's important to note that since people have been building jumps here for many years, it's not unusual for a small jump to suddenly appear on the trail. Some are to the side, but some are right in the middle of the trail and they're not always easy to see at speed. They can be fun if you know they're there, but keep your eyes open or you may find them the hard way.
The trails west of the creek (at the far west end of the park) also have some fun sections. This group of trails links to the trails on the north side of the creek via an interesting skinny crude log crossing that you can carry across (you can also ride across the creek bed at low water levels right next to the old log bridge), and connects with the paved path in several places. Be aware the new trail at the far southwest corner of the park goes over what seems to be a dump from decades ago. There are significant amounts of broken glass mixed in with the dirt here. Time will tell if a hardpacked surface will be able to contain the glass or not. Actually there's broken glass throughout the trail system, but this particular area is far worse than other areas. I personally have never flatted at Beulah but I may just have been lucky so far.
There is another fun group of trails south of the creek and north of the bike path that is very easy to follow and provides several options for passing through this area. We recently added a connector between this little section and the west trails so you no longer need to ride the asphalt path to connect these.
There are also a couple of trails north of the creek that run north, out of the park and connect to some trails that run along the powerlines north of the park. It's very possible that these trails are not legal to ride and run through private property. The power line trails have been popular with local motorcycle and ATV riders for years (not legally). They are rather wide dirt trails with some sections that are deeply rutted due to motorcycle use and erosion. I mention them and show them on the map because you will probably see the trails when riding the park trail or from the nearby Robert McClory Bike Path (North Shore Trail). I'll again mention that these trails are possibly illegal to ride.
In case it wasn't obvious, I have been describing these trails as mountain bike trails. Overall this is a real nice trail system for local mountain bikers looking for technical singletrack. There aren't a lot of miles here, but these are quality mountain bike trails. Though I describe some of the trails as "technical" they are more of what I would call "fun technical" rather than "scary technical" though there certainly are some advanced features here. But the really advanced stuff is all optional.
Oh sure, you can hike here too. This is a small park so any of the trails are easily hiked. As you can see by the photo on this page, the fall color in Beulah park can be rather spectacular. If you plan on using the old log crossing at the NorthWest end of the park as part of your hiking route, be aware that it is just a tree that has fallen across the creek. It's a pretty easy crossing, but if you're not particularly comfortable walking across on a downed tree you may want to choose another route. During dry periods you can walk right across the creek bed though.
The map on the right shows the location of Beulah Park. There are several bike trails running through Zion that come close to the park. The Robert McClory Bike Path (also known as the North Shore Trail), shown Yellow on the overview map, is a rails-to-trails conversion that runs just west of the park. 18th Street crosses the bike path and runs right to the start of the paved trail through the park. There are also short connectors from the bike path to Ravine Drive and Kedron Blvd. The Zion Bike Path, shown Black on the overview map, runs north/south and ends at 17th street. You can take 17th Street west directly to the east end of the paved bike path running through the park. Further east on 17th Street is the Northern Unit of Illinois Beach State Park. There are a series of bike paths running through this area as well. See the Illinois Beach State Park Page for maps and additional information.
There are no parking lots in the park, but you can park on Kedron Blvd (19th Street). Other options would be to park somewhere along the Robert McClory Bike Path (there is a small parking area just off of 9th Street) or park in one of the lots in Illinois Beach State Park and bike from there. Illinois Beach State Park's North Unit has some bike trails you can ride if you want to put on a few more miles, but be aware they are not mountain biking trails (they are very very very flat crushed stone, grass, or asphalt bike paths). I have a map available on the Illinois Beach State Park page.
- Illinois Beach State Park
- Kenosha Area Bike Paths Shows an overview of area bike paths (not mountain bike trails).
- Petrifying Springs Park Another nice set technical mountain bike trails about 15 miles north of Beulah Park.
- Lake County Trails
- Kenosha Area Trails
This page is authored and maintained by Dave Piasecki