Source: Chicago Outerbelt Alliance

Beginning and ending in Grant Park, the Outerbelt extends as far south as Tinley Park and as far north as Libertyville, connecting many of the county forest preserves that surround the city. The length of each day’s hike on this suggested itinerary ranges from five to 15 miles. More ambitious hikers can tackle the loop in less time. Others can choose to complete it over the course of many months, or just hike a portion of it on a day trip. For a detailed, interactive map of the route and other suggested attractions and campsites, visit

Hikers behind the South Shore Cultural Center
Trail behind the South Shore Cultural Center Photograph: Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune

Day 1

Buckingham Fountain → Steelworkers Park
Miles 12
Check out Steelworkers Park Climbing Wall (a 30-foot climbing and bouldering wall on a remnant of a massive former steel mill)

Day 2

Steelworkers Park → Camp Shabbona Woods,
Miles 15

Day 3

Camp Shabbona Woods → Sweet Woods in Glenwood
Miles 11


Day 4

Sweet Woods in Glenwood → Old Plank Road Trail
Miles 11
Check out Gabe’s Place (for an old-school diner breakfast)

Day 5

Old Plank Road Trail → Bartel Grassland
Miles 9
Check out Bartel Grassland (585 acres of former farmland restored to bird- and wildflower-filled native prairie)

Day 6

Bartel Grassland → Camp Sullivan
Miles 13

Day 7

Camp Sullivan → Cal-Sag Trail
Miles 10

Tents at Camp Bullfrog Lake
Camp Bullfrog Lake Photograph: Emily Leu

Day 8

Cal-Sag Trail → Camp Bullfrog Lake
Miles 10
Check out Palos Forest Preserves (birds and wildflowers galore)

Day 9

Camp Bullfrog Lake → Salt Creek Trail
Miles 12
Check out Arie Crown Forest (sheltered picnic groves and three miles of woodland trails)

Day 10

Salt Creek Trail → DesPlaines Avenue in Forest Park
Miles 10

Day 11

DesPlaines Avenue in Forest Park → Catherine Chevalier Woods
Miles 10
Check out Trailside Museum of Natural History (nature displays in a Victorian mansion)

Day 12

Catherine Chevalier Woods → Camp Pine Woods
Miles 11

Day 13

Camp Pine Woods → Camp Dan Beard
Miles 6

Day 14

Camp Dan Beard → Old School Forest Preserve
Miles 12
Check out REI Vernon Hills (to buy that rain parka you forgot to pack)

Day 15

Old School Forest Preserve → South Park in Lake Forest
Miles 10

Chicago Botanic Gardens
Chicago Botanic Gardens Photograph: Emily Leu

Day 16

South Park in Lake Forest → Little House of Glencoe
Miles 8
Check out Openland Lakeshore Preserve (pristine beach and bluffs)

Day 17

Little House of Glencoe → Thaddeus “Ted” Lechowicz Woods
Miles 12

Day 18

Thaddeus “Ted” Lechowicz Woods → Aragon Ballroom
Miles 10
Check out The Grafton Pub (for a perfectly poured imperial pint of Guinness)

Day 19

Aragon Ballroom → Buckingham Fountain
Miles 10
Check out Lincoln Park Zoo (commune with your favorite animals before the home stretch)

Source: Chicago Outerbelt Alliance; daily mileage is approximate