Trail Running: Chicago-Style

As the summer heat continues, we take to the trails of the Chicago suburbs looking for shade whenever possible to escape the sun. It’s funny how we’re always looking for places to run now that we are runners. A year ago, we didn’t know that the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail connecting Shipshewana to Elkhart even existed! Once you start looking for trails, you start to see them everywhere. The trails and parks in Illinois are absolutely stunning thanks to the local taxpayers who have invested in their communities. It’s good that the emphasis on parks is a priority since many Chicagoans spend a lot of time in vehicles. It can take well over 30 minutes to drive the 9 miles from Derek’s company to the client just a few towns over. So with much of the suburban landscape cluttered with traffic and developments, it is nice to get back into nature while you’re still in the city.

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Where we run depends on the time of day, heat and humidity, or the type of workout that we have planned for the day (easy run, long run, or speed workout). Here is a brief list of some of our favorite running trails:

  1. McCollum Park– Downers Grove: A 1.2 mile paved path partially shaded circling soccer fields,  softball diamonds, a mini-golf course, basketball courts, tennis courts, and sand-volleyball. There are lots of people out and about walking the trail and cyclists who bike the opposite way from the pedestrians. We like to run a speed workout here because it is a short loop that we can leave a water bottle out to sip on when needed and a pretty flat, paved course. It’s also fun to watch the activities happening inside the loop as we run around them. We would love to have a park like this back home  because lights come on in the evening and people stay out quite late. 5fdff7efb0af0fea0f2696db9c436af4
  2. Illinois Prairie Path– Wheaton: Over 60 miles of former railroads converted to trails in the Chicagoland area well-shaded by trees with a crushed gravel surface. We started in Wheaton, IL but there are many entry points. A great option for us if we’re starting later because much of the trail is well-lit and accommodates for pedestrian traffic with bridges and underpasses for runners to cross major roads. We also saw a free air stand to pump your bicycle tires! ipp
  3. Fullersburg Forest Preserve- Oak Brook: 1.5-2 mile routes completely shaded but very hilly. Lots of mountain bikers out and deer along the trail. Since it’s close to Derek’s company, we did a lunch run once. We’ve also done our easy runs here because it is well shaded and we can loop a lot of mileage.
  4. Des Plaines River Trail– Melrose Park: Another huge trail (28+ connected miles) that follows the river north to south through Lake and Cook County. We got a little lost on this trail on an off-shoot but with a little more investigating, I’m sure we could figure out where to turn to continue on the path.
  5. Langhorst Field-Elmhurst: We were looking for access to a track for speed workouts and found that we weren’t allowed to run on the local high school or middle school tracks. Elmhurst College, however, offers public access every day from 6-10pm so we’ve taken advantage of this opportunity quite a few times. There was only one time that we had to pay attention to soccer balls while a kids camp practiced on the field as we ran! 2995477845_8f615238d7

Overall it has been exciting finding new places to run in the area. The amount of trails is actually quite extensive. Here is a link to the forest preserves and trails just in DuPage County:DuPage County Forest Preserves. We know how hard it is to get support for trails to be maintained and valued. The Pumpkinvine trail back home has been advocated for and built all by volunteers. It’s just amazing to have multiple options like the Pumpkinvine we love so much all in the same vicinity. We miss running our group runs with Two Rivers Running Company and Reith Runs but still find enjoyment in running with each other. Happy trails!

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