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Trails: Find Adventure

Three good rides for thrill seekers of every skill level


Located on the northwestern edge of Cook County, Deer Grove offers beginning bikers an undemanding ride that doesn’t skimp on the scenery. The biggest payoff is the 3.9-mile-long paved trail on the east end that winds through gentle meadows and wooded ravines. (The easiest entrance point is off Quentin Road.) Added bonus: If you need to stop and refuel, there are picnic areas accessible throughout this 1,800-acre reserve. Much of this trail system is multiuse, so stay on the lookout for hikers and horse riders. fpdcc.com



Opened last fall as a joint venture between the Plainfield Park District and the biking organization Chicago Area Mountain Bikers, the two- to three-acre grounds are similar to a skateboarding park—except they’re made of dirt. Riders of all ages and ability can grab air on progressive dirt jumps or hit the pump track, a continuous loop of small hills similar to a mini BMX track. But to take your freestyle moves to the next level, head to the skills area and learn how to hop over logs and drop down over a ledge. It goes without saying that helmets are strongly recommended. plainfieldbikepark.com



With 50 miles of mix-and-match trails among unspoiled woodlands, Palos is the crown jewel of the Chicago-area trail system. But it’s the 20-mile loop of narrow or “single-track” mountain biking trails focused mostly on the western end that attracts serious riders. Start at the staging area in Pulaski Woods #2 (enter off 95th Street and Wolf Road) and head southwest to connect with the stretch known as “Gravity Cavity,” a technical trail that offers challenges in the form of rocks and nubby tree roots. Farther along you’ll encounter the aptly named “Psycho Path,” which is almost entirely uphill. fpdcc.com

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