IL Lake County Skokie Valley Trail
Skokie Valley Bikeway in Lake County
- Terrain / Scenery: Prarie grass lined with trees, ComEd transmission lines, and railroad tracks.
- Fees / Permits: Free / none.
- Trail Conditions: Paved multi use trail in very good condition.
- Trail Markings: Mile markers are present.
- Facilities: None, though it runs past a McDonalds (at Half Day Rd) and a gas station (at Lake Cook Rd).
- Official Web Page: none
- Getting There: A dedicated parking lot can be reached by going to the intersection of 176 and Green Bay Rd in Lake Bluff, go south for 1.5 miles, go west on Laurel Avenue, and park at the west end of that street. Another option is the shopping plaza at Hwy 176 and US 43 (Waukegan) in Lake Bluff near Dominick's et. al. From that lot, proceed east on Hwy 176 (the North Shore Bike Path) .6 mile to the Northern end of the Skokie Valley Trail.
The Skokie Valley Bikeway is a paved 10 mile trail that runs north/south, parallel to Skokie Valley Rd (which coincides with US-41 for all but the southern tip). It terminates in the south at Lake Cook Rd, and in the north at the North Shore Bike Path along Hwy 176. It runs through a ComEd right-of-way (ComEd occasionally uses the path to allow their trucks to access their equipment).
The southern entrance at Lake Cook Rd may be confusing to find. There's a gas station on the northwest corner of the intersection of Lake Cook Rd and Skokie Valley Rd. The trail starts at the south side of the gas station, and climbs out of view. The northern entrance is easy to find, only 50 yards east of the Union Pacific RR intersection with Hwy 176 in Lake Bluff.
The trail has overpasses over Deerpath Rd, US-41 and 22/Half Day Rd, where there's a sort of "exit ramp" that connects to 22. The trail has an underpass at the Union Pacific RR in the new northern extension.
The trail runs parallel to the Robert McClory trail, and is never more than 1.5 miles from it. This makes it very easy to make a round-trip loop from any of several points. Direct east/west connections between the two trails are made using either sidewalks, bike lanes or dedicated bike paths -- no direct street riding is required. From south to north, the connectors are Old Elm Road (direct intersection), Westleigh Rd (direct intersection), Deerpath Rd (exit down a ramp at the overpass), Laurel Avenue (there is a marked street route that goes east all the way to the end of Laurel Ave, and then slightly south and under the bridge, to connect to McClory -see map), and at the northern terminus via the North Shore Bike Path.
NOTE: the long-awaited extension to the North Shore Trail was opened 28 Aug 2009. This is a 1.5 mile extension on the north end that is asphalt paved like the rest of the trail, and includes many road markers (such as 'S' curve signs, steep grade advisory, etc.) It continues along the ComEd right-of-way from the prior trail terminus at Laurel Avenue to the new end point at the North Shore Bike path along Hwy 176.
An 8 mile southern extension into Cook County is in the initial planning stages.