Bikers on the North Branch of the Chicago River Bike Trail and the east side of the Skokie lagoons between Tower Road and the Chicago Botanical Garden pass beneath a forest canopy. PHOTO BY BOB MCCRAY
Bikers on the North Branch of the Chicago River Bike Trail and the east side of the Skokie lagoons between Tower Road and the Chicago Botanical Garden pass beneath a forest canopy. PHOTO BY BOB MCCRAY
“Life is a journey, not a destination,” wrote the great American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson. But some bike trips are both. A good example is the north section of the North Branch of the Chicago River Bike Trail.  

The “journey” includes a winding route along a quiet river, crossing bridges and circling peaceful lagoons. The “destination” is the award-winning Chicago Botanic Garden, the 12th most visited tourist spot in Chicago, with 12 million annual visitors to the 365 acres of gardens on nine islands. 

The Chicago River Bike Trail is a four-season trail, which our family has biked, hiked and cross-country skied for years (as well as having paddled the adjacent river and lagoons). Soon the trail will be connected through the garden’s MacDonald Woods with interpretive signs and a wooden boardwalk across the wetlands, to Turnbull Woods and the Green Bay Trail at the Braeside Metra Station in Highland Park. 

The entirety of Bob McCray's account of biking to and through the Chicago Botanical Garden appears in the May 2014 print edition of Silent Sports magazine. To order a copy, call 888-706-4045. Or subscribe online and never miss an issue!