Bring Your Bike!
Explore hundreds of miles of riding trails in the Chicago Southland
If you’ve got a couple hours and the energy to pedal a few miles, we’ve got some fun for you. Seeing the Chicago Southland via bicycle gives you a different perspective and a way to view the area through a different lens. It also helps you garner a better appreciation for nature, recreation and the communities that line the routes. And the physical activity is good for you!
Use the Chicago Southland Trails App to help you plan out your trip. You can use it to help you make your way through 40,000 acres of forestry and countless miles of trails.
When you pack for your next visit, make your bicycle as big a priority as the items in your suitcase. Here are two biking excursions that you can plan for when visiting the Chicago Southland with some suggested stops to enhance your ride.
Old Plank Road Trail Tour
This itinerary allows you to take in a bit of culture and history on your route. You can learn a little about the history of the railroad and its significance to the area at the Park Forest Rail Fan Park. Several of the area biking trails are situated on former railways, including the Old Plank Road Trail. The Allemong Bell is a nod to Matteson’s history and honors a former village president. Take in a little more history at the Frankfort Area Historical Museum and Matteson Mural.
Stops on this tour:
1. Park Forest Rail Fan Park
2. Allemong Bell
3. Old Plank Road Prairie Nature Preserve
4. Cultivate Community Table
5. KidsWork Children's Museum
6. Creamery (Ice Cream Shop)
7. Frankfort Area Historical Museum
8. New Lenox Commons
9. Matteson Mural
Cal-Sag Road Tour
If you take a ride on this route, it covers shopping, nature, fitness and a tribute to veterans and victims of 9/11. Shop for bargains and one-of-a-kind items at Swap-O-Rama Flea Market and enjoy the beauty of Lake Katherine Nature Center and Botanic Garden’s natural landscape and waterfall. Bike through Palos Heights and stop for reflection at the 9/11 and Veterans Memorials. Get off the bike for a workout on Swallow Cliff’s 125 limestone stairs.
Stops on this tour:
1. Swap-O-Rama Flea Market
2. Lake Katherine Nature Center and Botanic Gardens
3. Palos Heights 9/11 and Veterans Memorial
4. Sculpture Collection in Palos Heights
5. Harvest Room
6. Swallow Cliff Stairs
Other notable Chicago Southland biking trails include the Burnham Greenway, the Orland Park Bikeway, the Palos Heights Bike Trail and the Pennsy Greenway and Thorn Creed Trail and Tinley Creed Trail.
- Contact your hotel in advance to see if they have space to store your bike indoors when not in use.
- Pack the sunblock. Trails can alternate between shady tree-lined paths and sunny, open areas. Make sure you lather up to protect your skin and prevent a burn.
- Carry a patch kit, tool kit, tire pump and first aid kit on your bike so you are prepared for emergencies.
- Don’t forget insect repellent as trails pass through wooded areas.
- Bring plenty of water so you can stay hydrated.
- Bring a bike lock so that you can secure your bike if you venture off for some dining, shopping or sightseeing.
- Safety first - be sure to have a well-fitted helmet.
- To help keep an eye on upcoming bike traffic from the back on the trails, install a rear-view mirror on your handlebars.
- If riding at night, be sure to wear reflective clothing and install a light to be better seen by motorists.
- If you don’t have a basket or pannier side bag on your bike, bring a lightweight string backpack to carry your water bottles, emergency items or anything you might buy along the way as you stop.
- Bring a printed trail map or smart phone to help you navigate.
- If you aren’t traveling with a smartphone, bring a compact camera. There will be plenty of opportunities to snap beautiful shots - especially if you’re riding at sunrise or sunset.
Needing some supplies, gear or repairs? Here are some bike shops in the Chicago Southland where you’ll find what you need:
Adam’s Bicycle Shop, 12715 Old Plank Drive, New Lenox
Compleat Cyclist, 703 East Sibley Boulevard, Dolton
FNA Outdoors, 1303 South Schoolhouse Road, Suite 8, New Lenox
GoodSpeed Cycles, 2125 183rd Street, Homewood
Orland Park Cyclery, 14445 John Humphrey Drive, Orland Park
Plank Road Cyclery (located on Old Plank Road Trail), 20 Elwood Street, Frankfort
Richard’s Bicycles, 11933 South Harlem Avenue, Palos Heights