Here’s a destination run at the northern end of Chicagoland near the Illinois state line: three distinct areas, which can be mixed and combined!
Illinois Beach State Park. This 4,100-acre park stretches for 6.5 miles along the sandy shore of Lake Michigan, featuring dunes and swales, sprawling marshes, and forests of oak. There are some 650 species of plans in the dunes! For running, there there’s a 2-mile Nature Trail loop at the southern end of the park, featuring a firm sand surface and a savanna-like feel. There’s a 2-mile paved multi-use path, which starts at the Nature Center and goes heads north, featuring some nice views of the dunes and lake. The north end of the trail ends at 29th St. in Zion, where after a brief road section, you can continue on the Zion Trail (below).
Zion Trail. A paved bike path that runs for 2.2 miles between Carmel Blvd. & W 17th St. A mix of woods and suburban connector trail. Can connect to the multi-use trail in Illinois Beach State Park at 29th St. (see above) or the North Dunes Nature Preserve, off 17th St. (below).
North Dunes Nature Preserve & North Point Marina. Large and beautiful preserve, featuring trails passing through wetland, prairie, savanna and beach communities. From the parking lot, head south on the trail and around sand pond for a 2.5 mile loop. Then, head north for 1 mile to the north end of the preserve, where you can continue on the scenic, ~1.5 mile path along the North Point Marina.
- Depends on section chosen. See descriptions
- The area is generally flat
- Illinois SP: Nature Center; Dunes Preserve: Parking lot or off 17th St.
- Illinois SP: Park at the Nature Center to access the Nature Trail and south end of the Bike Trail. Dunes Preserve: Paking lot at Sand Pond or Isherwood Beach; Metra stations in Zion, Wintrhop Harbor