Cruise These Kid-Friendly Bike Trails in Chicagoland

Take in some sweet views on these biking trails for kids around Chicago and the suburbs.

When the weather gets nice, everyone in Chicagoland is ready to get outdoors and get some energy out. What better way to do it than by hitting a local bike trail? 

Whether your kid is an expert on a mountain bike or still riding the Radio Flyer three-wheeler, there are great trails in and around Chicago to take in the smells of spring and the sights of the city. Note: Unless noted that rentals are available, all of these locations are BYOB — Bring Your Own Bike. 

Looking for more kid-friendly activities? Check out our summer fun family guide!

This article was recently updated on May 13, 2024 by Chicago Parent’s Assistant Editor, Nikki Roberts. The update included her research and fact-checking expertise to provide the latest information on Chicagoland bike trails for families. Questions? Please reach out to

Kid-Friendly bike trails in Chicago

best things to do as a family in chicago in the summer
Photo credit: Choose Chicago

The 606

Connecting six neighborhood parks, The 606 is the perfect trail for beginners or a family looking for long distances. You can stop at any of the parks and learn something new from their educational programming, check out public art installations or just explore Chicago.

Big Marsh Park

This thrilling outdoor bike park offers six bike trails. Navigate ladder bridges and wooden obstacles while cruising nearly three miles of dirt trails, or take on the exciting pump tracks and bike jumps. 

Lakefront Trail

For a perfect ride on a perfect spring day, see the Chicago skyline from the Lakefront Trail. Separate lanes for bikes and pedestrians allow enough space for all trail enjoyers, which means even novice bikers can enjoy the busy trail.

North Branch Trail System 

Starting at Gompers Park in Albany Park, this 20-mile trail spans from the North Side of the city to the north ‘burbs. The trail follows the North Branch of the Chicago River and winds through golf courses, forest preserves, scenic picnic grounds and more. Check out the forest preserve’s map to find an entrance point near you and plan your route. 

Kid-friendly bike trails in North/Northwest Suburbs

kid-friendly bike trails chicago
Photo courtesy of Forest Preserves of Cook County

Chicago Botanic Garden

Bikes are encouraged around the outer trail of the garden, through the prairies and past the aquatic garden. Watch for summer dates when the garden opens paths usually closed to bicycles and holds festivities for two-wheeled enthusiasts.

Pro tip: For a fun long-distance ride, take the North Branch Trail to Glencoe. 

Busse Woods

This seven-mile paved loop offers views of tree-lined paths, lakes and even an elk pasture! While you may not always spot these massive creatures on every visit, kids will love to rive the bridge over Higgins Road. 

Fox River Trail

  • Route: Fox River from Algonquin to Oswego
  • Best for: Early elementary and older at parks, middle school and older for entire trail
  • Cost: Free

To go from top to bottom is more than 44 miles of former railroad trails that follow along the Fox River. The beauty of the area is unmatched, as families can travel through towns in Kane and Kendall counties, stopping where they choose along the way at libraries, farmers markets and even for lunch.

Meacham Grove Forest Preserve

The 2 1/2 miles of trail welcomes bikers and hikers. Bring a picnic to eat or a fishing pole to fish at Maple Lake (16 and older must have a fishing license).

Kid-friendly bike trails in South Suburbs

kid-friendly bike trails chicago
Photo courtesy of Forest Preserves of Cook County

The Cal-Sag Trail

At 26 miles from start to finish, bikers can up their mileage by stopping at any of the five connecting public trails along the route. As the trail winds through communities in the South Suburbs, this is best traversed with experienced bikers who pass a road rules test.

Old Plank Road Trail

  • Route: Park Road (Joliet Township) to Western Avenue (Park Forest)
  • Best for: Late elementary and older
  • Cost: Free

Traversing 22 miles through seven communities, the trail runs parallel to Route 30 through the far South Suburbs. For families who want to travel even farther, a new addition allows bikers to connect to the Thorn Creek Trail system, adding Chicago Heights and its trails to the map.

Thorn Creek Trail System

Explore the south suburbs by bike when you take a ride on the Thorn Creek Trail. The trail system includes nearly 23 miles of paved and unpaved trails. Ride through forests, lakes, wetlands and woodlands. The trail is paved from Lansing Woods to Sauk Trail Woods. 

Kid-friendly bike trails in Western Suburbs

kid-friendly bike trails chicago
Photo credit: Forest Preserves of Cook County

DuPage River Trail

  • Address: Access points at Hammel Woods (Shorewood), Whalon Lake (Naperville) and Riverview Farmstead Preserve (Naperville) 
  • Best for: Late elementary and older
  • Cost: Free

This suburban trail is a work in progress, but don’t let that stop you from planning your family’s next bike route! The trail currently has three segments totaling 8.64 miles. With access points in Shorewood and Naperville, the trail winds through woodlands, wetlands and historic farmland. 

Morton Arboretum

kid-friendly bike trails chicago
Photo credit: The Morton Arboretum

Enjoy the Morton Arboretum’s flowers, trees, birds and natural beauty while cruising along nine miles of paved road.  

Salt Creek Trail

Beginning in Brookfield Woods and stretching over 16 miles west to Bemis Woods in Western Springs, the paved Salt Creek Trail is fun trail for biking and exploration. Roll behind houses that border the creek; many neighboring residents have cute backyards that add to the trail’s scenery. This trail is best for older kids who can be trusted with road safety best practices due to its many intersections that cross car traffic.

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Nikki Roberts
Nikki Roberts
Nikki Roberts is the assistant editor on the Chicago Parent team. She is always on the lookout for the coolest and trendiest new attractions, restaurants and events for Chicagoland families. Her newsletters, online family guides and exciting digital content keep families informed on all the latest happenings around town.
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