North Branch Bike Trail in Chicago

I rode the North Branch Trail and just wanted to let you folks know my thoughts.

Easy to get to

I took Elston to Forest Glen Ave and the entrance is a couple blocks north on the left.

Great Ride

Most of it was through forest preserves so it was an easy and fun ride. All was paved. Good for families and newer riders. Not a ton of road crossing like some sections of the prairie path.


You can get all the way to the Botanic Gardens in Glencoe. It was around 35 miles round trip without the detour I took. The farthest north part is around the Skokie Lagoons (not in Skokie) and is a beautiful ride for this area.


Even with all this rain there was only major flooding in two areas. In Bunker Hill Woods in Niles- I just backtracked and went on the road and turned SW on Harts and picked it up. And in Wilmette between Lake and Happ. I ended up taking Lake/Illinois/Happ and got through.

I haven’t seen good write ups of these so I thought this might help. I’m starting to put them on my website if anyone wants a link. If you know of good guides, let me know.

Let me know if you have any questions or if there is a route you want me to explore next.

Exercise Benefits of an Electric Bike

One question I had before purchasing an electric bike was would it be beneficial to ride an electric bike for exercise purposes.

By tracking my progress via an app on my phone as well as the heart rate monitor on my watch, I think I came across some pretty compelling data that shows that not only is riding an electric bike in pedal assist mode beneficial to your health but in fact I think it’s a great way to safely exercise.

Keep in mind I am not a doctor so you shouldn’t take this as medical advice.

The conclusion I’ve come to in my short time as an electric bike owner is that riding an electric bike in pedal assist mode is a great way to exercise while eliminating some of the strain and stressful parts of bicycling.

I recently completed a 31 mile ride. The data from my watch and heart monitor were very interesting because my battery died around mile 23.

The first 20 miles seem to show that electric bike with pedal assist is a great way to get to your target heart rate and maintain it for a longer period of time.

Over the first 20 miles, my average heart rate was consistently around 76–78%. This is at the higher end of the target heart rate of 50-75% they recommend you target for exercise. My maximum heart rate was between 82–84%. I even saw heart rates as high as 91-92% which shows that when I wanted to dig down and challenge myself I could get a more vigorous workout result too.

I have not tested this in any bike other than my bike. My recommendation would be to rent a bike and test my theory for yourself. Or you could buy one of the cheapest electric bikes off amazon like I did.

Let me know what you think on Twitter at @oconnell.

Safe riding!

Biking in Chicago on an Electric Bike

Best roads for getting around biking in Chicago:

NW/SE toward downtown

Elston – some protected lanes

Milwaukee – some protected lanes


Damen, Kedzie

Best Routes

NW to Buckingham Fountain

NW to Lakefront

West to Lakefront

Chicago City Bikeway Map

Chicago Reader Mellow Bike Map

– Link to Google Map Version

Lakefront Trail

Epic Rides

Lakefront Trail

Lakefront Trail Updates

The 606 (aka Bloomingdale Trail)

Illinois Prairie Path

Use for City to Roundhouse in Aurora – easy to take Metra back

Cook County Bike Trails

Includes North Branch Trail

Des Plaines River Trail

Green Bay Trail

Prairie Trail North – McHenry County

Mountain bike trails within 300 miles of Chicago

Brown County State Park in Indiana – 28 mile off road mountain bike trail

Bike 4 Trails – 101 miles of connected bike trails in Wisconsin

Great River State Trail – Wisconsin

Chicago to Milwaukee

Route 66 to St. Louis

Mississippi River Trail