Des Plaines River Trail

The Des Plaines River Trail extends nearly 60 miles through Cook and Lake Counties, Illinois from Melrose Park in the south to the Wisconsin border in Wadsworth. The trail which is partially paved in part and partially unpaved in part skirts the tranquil Des Plaines River and goes through a number of forest preserves with stunning scenery. Beck Lake, Half Day Forest Preserve and Independence Grove Forest Preserve are highly recommended. While on the trail one feels far away from the adjacent busy suburbs.



North Avenue and North 1st Avenue in Melrose Park in the south to Russell Road east of Interstate 94 in Wadsworth. Consult here (Cook County) and here (Lake County) for a list of parking areas. Detailed PDF trail maps may be found here (Cook County) and here (Lake County).

Distance from Downtown Chicago

14 miles from the center of the city to the southern end of the trail in Melrose Park and 53 miles to the northern end of the trail in Wadsworth.

How To Get There

Bike, Walk, Drive, Bus, Metra Rail


There are accessible parking spaces and restrooms. In Allison Woods, picnic grove no. 1 is accessible from May 1-October 31 and may be reserved online here. Each of Dam No. 4 Woods East, Schiller Woods East, Schiller Woods West and Sunset Bridge Meadow has an accessible picnic grove which may be reserved online here.

Things To Do

Biking, Birdwatching (cranes, eagles, egrets, herons, hawks, vireos, warblers), Boating, Cross-Country Skiing, Fishing, Hiking, Horseback Riding, Jogging, Picnicking (consult here for a list of accessible picnic shelters in Cook County), Running, Watchable Wildlife and Wildflowers.

Fun Facts

Legend has it that 17th century French explorers named the Des Plaines River "La Rivière des Plaines" (the River of Plane Trees) because the riverside trees resembled French plane trees.

Other Information

There are numerous parking areas, restrooms and water fountains along the trail.


A tasty picnic lunch can be obtained from Wajo Sushi located in walking distance just west of the trail near Dundee Road at 73 S. Milwaukee Avenue in Wheeling. For breakfast near the trail some good choices are Fried Egg near Half Day Forest Preserve and located in Vernon Hills Town Center, 1260 South Milwaukee Avenue in Vernon Hills, Riverside Café & Coffee Shop, located at 401 N Riverside Drive, Unit 8, Gurnee, and Egg Harbor Café located at 125 Lake Street, Libertyville. For Italian pastries and delicious sandwiches try Sicilian Bakery located at 4632 North Cumberland Avenue in Chicago. A takeout lunch consisting of Phil’s Eggplant Sandwich and a Cassata cake slice is unbeatable.

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Nearby Public Lands Worth Visiting

Best Time To Visit

All year

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