Spin class is great for clearing your conscience. (Adios, salted-caramel cupcakes.) But could it be any darker or louder? This weekend, break out your real bike--the one that moves--and log some miles on these leafy, scenic trails that’ll get you outdoors, off the city streets and back into pedaling your own way.
Chicago's Most Scenic Bike Trails
Cover new ground in the city and 'burbs
Lakefront Trail (south)
The full 18-mile trail is a gem, but the crush of humanity on the path’s northern sections can trigger bike rage you seriously don’t need. South of Museum Campus, though, things open up all the way to Hyde Park and beyond. Don’t miss the absolute best skyline view from Promontory Point.
Palos Forest Preserve
Break out the fat tires and head southwest to enjoy more than 50 miles of rugged trails, including the only legitimate mountain-biking routes in the metropolitan area.
Head to the western suburbs with or without your own bike to cruise among towering oaks, maples and ash. Rentals are available, and the paths are car-free all summer long on Fridays from 5:30 p.m. until sunset and on Saturdays and Sundays from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. (admission charge applies).
Des Plaines River Trail
Get out of town on 31 miles of crushed gravel that will lead you through the ecosystems (think wilderness and wetlands) of several forest preserves on your way from Chicago all the way up to Wisconsin, if you’re feeling ambitious.