About Bicycles Online > Bicycle Touring and Trails > North Branch Bike Trail

The North Branch Trail

The North Branch Trail (15 miles) is a paved and mostly wooded trail that winds through the northern suburbs of Chicago (including Niles, Morton Grove, Glenview, Northfield and Glencoe) and into the far north end of Chicago (Edgebrook) following the North Branch of the Chicago River and the Skokie River in the northern part of the trail.

North Branch Trail southern leg
A partially wooded scene from the North Branch Trail just north of Howard Street.
Deer seen from North Brance Trail
One of the deer that I came across as the North Branch Trail runs through the Miami Woods.
Cyclist on NBT
Blue and white jersey cyclist crossing the small stone bridge on the NBT.

When you are on the North Branch Trail (NBT) it's easy to forget that you are in very populated and sometimes congested parts of the city and suburbs ~ at least until you come up to one of the busy roads that the trail crosses.

Parts of the North Branch Trail and the forest preserves that it runs through have been around for decades. The southern part of the trail is heavily wooded and fairly quiet considering the location of the trail.

The North Branch Trail can get a little crowded at peak times, such as on weekends or really nice summer days. If you are able to ride the trail at off-times (on a week day or when the weather thins out the fair-weather riders (joggers, walkers, rollerbladers)), then you will avoid the heavier traffic on the trail and may have a nicer ride.

Pavillion on North Branch Trail
A pavilion as seen from the North Branch Trail.
Skokie Lagoon along NBT
One of the Skokie Lagoons at the northern leg of the NBT.
Botanic Garden Scene, North Branch Trail Bike Ride
A view from the Chicago Botanic Gardens at the northern end of the North Branch Trail.

The Key Features of the NBT is that it is all paved, it runs through many quiet, scenic and nicely wooded areas, is in a convenient location for many people, has a little over 15 miles and you can ride into the Chicago Botanic Gardens at the northern end of the trail.

The Disadvantages of the NBT is that it can get a little crowded at times and you have to stop and wait to cross a number of very busy roads.

My Ride(s) on the North Branch Bike Paths

I had actually ridden on the northern end of the NBT many years ago (from Dundee Road to Glenview Road) but had not actually ridden the entire trail (all the way to Devon Avenue in Chicago) until this week. My wife grew up in Glenview and told me how she used to like to ride the NBT when she was a kid (in the 70s) so this trail has a long history.

As for my recent ride on the NBT, I parked at a forest preserve just off of Lake Cook Road on the northern end of the Chicago Botanic Gardens, rode through the Botanic Gardens to the northern end of the trail at Dundee Road. Next, I rode the entire trail south to Devon Avenue in Chicago's Edgebrook neighborhood.

I brought my camera to take photos of the trail for this article and had my Bike GPS with me, as usual, in order to provide the GPS map of the ride (posted below). I took the photos on the way back north so the photos are from Chicago, north to Dundee Road and then I included a few photos of the Chicago Botanic Gardens as I passed through it to get back to my car.

The North Branch Trail Interactive GPS Map

Below is a Map of the North Branch Bike Trail with a link to the GarminConnect site so you can review the route, map, connecting trails and surrounding area. If you take the map link to the Garmin site, you can zoom-in, zoom-out, move around or switch to the satellite view as you wish.

The North Branch Trail Map
North Branch Trail Map ~ interactive

© Copyright Garmin and Microsoft.
(click on map to see full map/ride details)


The North Branch Trail Photo Tour

Here's the photo tour of the North Branch Trail from Devon Avenue in Chicago to the northern end of the trail, at Dundee Road and then into the Chicago Botanic Gardens, from July, 2012.

North Branch Trail Photo Page 1 - Devon to Oakton and Caldwell
North Branch Trail Photo Page 2 - Miami Woods to Dempster
North Branch Trail Photo Page 3 - Dempster to Harms Road
North Branch Trail Photo Page 4 - Golf Road to Edens Exp.
North Branch Trail Photo Page 5 - Edens Exp to Skokie Lagoons
North Branch Trail Photo Page 6 - Skokie Lagoons and Botanic Gardens

Here are some Fall Photos of the North Branch Trail from Lake Street in Glenview to south to just past Touhy Ave near Park Ridge (from October 10, 2012):

The NBT Fall Photos 7 - Lake St. to Miami Woods
The NBT Fall Photos 8 - Miami Woods and back

Here's the GPS Map of the ride above.

Enjoy your ride...