Happy Trails—Best Trails to Hike, Bike, or Run

March 2015 View more

Fitness Girl Running in Aspen Grove at SunsetWith the winter chill behind us, it might be the perfect time to move your workout outdoors. The fresh air and time outside with nature may be especially invigorating as spring begins to bloom.

Naperville residents are fortunate to have several choices available to them when it comes to hitting the trail. Whether you’re hiking, biking, or running, there’s ample parking, bathrooms, marked trails, and best of all—it’s free.

Kris Hartner, owner of Naperville Running Company, says area trails offer a chance to vary your workout routine. “One of the best things you can do for yourself, to avoid common running injuries, is to run on trails. The varied terrain of a trail run will force you to change your stride, vary the muscles you use and the softer surface means much lower impact. The repetitive nature of treadmill running, or road running, taking essentially the same stride thousands of times every mile, on a hard surface, is a source for potential injury,” said Hartner.

Here’s a tour of the top five trails in the Naperville area worth exploring this spring.

McDowell Grove

“True trail running with a variety of terrain”
Acres: 465
Location: Naperville
The entrance is on the east side of Raymond Drive at McDowell Road just south of I-88.
Trails: 6 miles
Mature woodlands, open fields, West Branch of the DuPage River, Civilian Conservation Corps-built shelter, put-in and take-out river access for paddlers at Fawell Dam.
Features: Drinking water, parking, restrooms.
Habitats: Lake/pond/waterway, prairie/grassland, woodland.

DuPage River Park

“Lots of grass-only trails and access to water on both sides of the park”
Location: 808 Royce Road, Naperville
Features: Trails, picnic shelter, restrooms, and pond.

Herrick Lake Forest preserve

“Crushed limestone trail, but there is good amount of shade on hot days”
Acres: 896
Location: Wheaton
The main entrance is on the south side of Butterfield Road, about two miles west of Naperville Road.
Trails: 7 miles
Hikers, bicyclers, and walkers can enjoy more than five miles of trails, including a section of the Danada and Herrick Lake Regional Trail, a designated National Recreation Trail under the federal National Trails System Act. A path around the lake connects both parking lots to the picnic grounds and the trailhead. Additional trails cut through central and southern parts of the preserve.
Features: Drinking water, restrooms, and latrines.
Habitats: Lake/pond/waterway, prairie/grassland, wetland, woodland

Springbrook Prairie

“Crushed limestone and distance markers”
Acres: 1,829
Location: Naperville
The main parking lot and trailhead are on the north side of 83rd Street east of Route 59 and ¼ mile west of Book Road. Parking is also available on the west side of Plainfield-Naperville Road between 75th and 87th Streets.
Trails: 13 miles
Run or hike through both wet and dry prairies. Bicycles must remain on the maintained trails. Two miles of narrow, mowed trails allow visitors a closer view of the preserve’s natural features. Sections of the trail may be closed during key bird breeding seasons to protect critical nesting habitats.
Features: Drinking water, restrooms, and latrines.
Habitats: Lake/pond/waterway, prairie/grassland, wetland.

Greene Valley

“Opportunity to work some hills into the run”
Acres: 1,414
Location: Naperville
The north parking lot is on the east side of Greene Road north of 75th Street. The south parking lot is on the west side of Greene Road ¼ mile south of 79th Street.
Trails: 11 miles
Over 75 percent of Greene Valley’s 12 miles of marked trails are open to runners, hikers, and bicyclers.
Features: Drinking water, parking, latrines, and portable washrooms.
Habitats: Lake/pond/waterway, prairie/grassland, wetland, and woodland.

An outdoor walk, run, or bike is the perfect way to get those endorphins moving for spring.