Health and Wellness
Walking Trails in the Northwest Suburbs
“Walking is man's best medicine.” - Hippocrates
Hippocrates is considered the father of western medicine. Over 2400 years later, the support for this sage advice has only continued to grow.
Before beginning any exercise program, consult your physician about your current state of health and any problems that could arise during your selected form of exercise.
Two scientists from University College in London performed an analysis on several decades worth of studies, which is called a meta analysis. They hand picked 18 high quality studies on walking which evaluated over 450,000 participants, all of whom were free of cardiovascular disease at the beginning of the study. On average, they tracked participants for over 11 years. Cardiovascular events and deaths were recorded. They found that walking reduced the risk of cardiovascular events by 31% and dying by 32%. Benefits were clear at distances as little as 5.5 miles or approximately 11,000 steps per week and at walking speeds as slow as 2 miles per hour.
We recommend taking advantage of the technology in newer pedometers today, such as the Fitbit, which makes it easy to track your level of activity. Commonly with these pedometers, step goals are set to 10,000 steps per day. However, you may feel more comfortable starting smaller, especially since benefits from walking can be seen in approximately 1,600 additional steps per day. Be sure to manually adjust your step goal to suit your own needs.
Some people with difficulty walking for extended periods benefit greatly by using trekking poles. As you may know, this is common for people hiking in the mountains. What you may not know is that their use is very popular in Europe, and they are also effective in the rehabilitation of minor injuries, because trekking poles are designed to improve stability. Using trekking poles will typically burn 20% more calories and also reduce soreness.
Steps can be counted on a treadmill, elliptical or cross country skier; however, this area has an incredible network of parks which can make your walking more enjoyable. The variety in both activity and venue can be very beneficial.
Here are some local areas with great walking trails:
Busse Woods (surface asphalt, some concrete)
Across the street from Bright Light Radiology is the Ned Brown Preserve, which is also known as Busse Woods. While the preserve is in Elk Grove Village, it shares a long border over 3 miles long with Schaumburg, and more than a mile with Rolling Meadows and Arlington Heights. It has 10.8 miles of trail perfect for walking or biking, as well as a 460 acre lake with numerous islands and 20 miles of shoreline. It attracts 2.5 million visitors per year.
Walking, biking, rollerblading, boating, fishing and abundant places for picnics are available at the park. Rentals are also available for kayaks, canoes and rowboats directly inside the park. The trail runs along a huge enclosure for a herd of elk.
The preserve is easily accessible from Schaumburg by taking Higgins Road East. There are three entrances on Higgins Road: one turns South (right) into the park, and the other three turn North into the park. From Rolling Meadows and Arlington Heights, the most convenient entrance is along Arlington Heights Road. Take Arlington Heights Road South, and there is a parking lot entrance 0.2 miles North of Higgins. Alternately, you can turn West on Higgins for the four entrances on Higgins Road mentioned above. From Itasca, take Arlington Heights Road North and use the turn in at Edgeware Road. From Medina or Roselle, take Rohlwing Road North to Biesterfield East (right) and turn North (left) on Beisner Road. The main loop of trail is 8 miles long, so walkers may opt to go out a certain distance or time and then turn around. Since you can start from many different locations, there is still quite a variety of sights to see using this out and back method. Walks along the lake and near the elk are especially popular. Turn left (North) on Hermitage Lane.
Park St Claire Conservation Area Schaumburg (surface asphalt)
Park St Clair in Schaumburg has nearly a mile of well-maintained walking trail and is connected to Schaumburg’s broader, 89-mile trail network. If you live or work in Schaumburg, these trails are very convenient. The park contains a wetland, playground and a picnic gazebo.
Fabbrini Park Hoffman Estates, IL (surface asphalt)
This Hoffman Estates park, formerly called Highpoint Park, has a mile of trail with two lakes and several sports fields. From Schaumburg, go West on West Higgins road, and turn north on Glen Lake Road. In the summer you can check out the 6 dedicated pickleball courts.
Pickleball is a tennis like game played on a much smaller court, the ball is lighter and slower moving than a tennis ball. This makes the game much lower impact than tennis. Walking here gives you a chance to observe games in addition to the two lakes. Indoor Pickleball courts at Stone Prairie Health and Fitness at 5050 Sedge Blvd, Hoffman Estates.
Arthur L. Janura Forest Preserve, Hoffman Estates, IL (main loop surface asphalt)
This forest preserve has several names, including Poplar Creek, Shoe Factory Road Woods, and Carl Hansen Woods. Here, you will find 21 miles of paved and unpaved trails, including an 8.9 mile fully paved loop. Bode Lake, located in the Southeast part of the park, provides a variety of wildlife views and picturesque nature spots that are able to be walked over maintained grass. From the parking lot, a perimeter walk around the southern lake is 0.87 miles (about 1,750 steps). The park is located on the North side of Bode Road from Streamwood. The Bode Lake parking lot can be found just West of Park Boulevard and Bode Road. The paved 8.9 mile loop will also be visible from here, between the parking lot and the nearby lake. The Northern edge of the park borders on South Barrington. From the Barrington area, take Barrington Road South and enter on the right a quarter mile South of Higgins Road. This entrance has easy trail access as well as pavilion picnic areas.
Paul Douglas Forest Preserve, Hoffman Estates, IL (surface asphalt)
This 1,800 acre forest preserve has a 7.2 mile bike trail which encircles the park. One of the more unique features of this park is its a heron rookery. The park is in the heart of Hoffman Estates, making it also quite close to Schaumburg. From either of these suburbs, take Roselle Road North to West (left) on West Central, and turn North (right) after 1.8 miles on West Central.
Camp Pine Woods, Glenview, IL (surface crushed limestone)
This park is part of the Des Plaines River greenway and is connected to the 28-mile Des Plaines River Trail. You can walk along the shore of Beck Lake from the boat ramp up the east side of the lake to the tree line on the North side (.62 miles one way). This is not paved, so if it is wet, you may wish to instead head West on the Des Plaines River bike trail, which is crushed limestone. To the East is an off leash dog area. From Mt. Prospect or Prospect Heights, take Central Road East to East River Road North (left). From Des Plaines, take South River Road North and turn East on East Central Road.
Cal-Sag Trail, Lemont, IL
The Cal-Sag trail is roughly marathon length, running for slightly more than 26 miles. The trail runs from Archer Avenue near Lemont, Illinois to the Burnham Greenway near the Indiana border. The trail runs through Palos Park and Palos Heights. Parking is available near Sag Quarries in Lemont, as well as near Lake Katherine in Palos Heights.
I & M Canal
The I & M canal (Illinois and Michigan Canal) links the waterways of the Illinois River to Lake Michigan, and was constructed in the early 1800s. There is a 15-mile stretch of trails along the western border, park crushed limeston and partly paved. Access points include the Sag Quarries in Lemont as well as Freedom Park in Alsip.
The lakefront trail is 18 miles long, and extends from Ardmore St to 71st St on the South end. This will take you along many of Chicago's greatest attractions including the Lincoln Park Zoo, Navy Pier, and the Museum of Science and Industry.
Around Your Neighborhood
Many neighborhoods have safe places to walk. It is always better to walk in daylight, in good weather, and with friends.
We hope this information helps you on your path to better health.