Palos is the granddaddy of the trail systems available in Chicago. It is the largest trail system and therefore gets the most use. In all, there are some fifty miles of singletrack and widetrack trails to explore, though the legal singletrack is congregated in the western half. The area has hills, rolling widetrack, tight twisty singletrack, climbs, fast descents, and plenty more to keep you satisfied for hours.
Start at Maple Lake East parking area and head out on Maple Lake East
on an easy downhill roll with views of Maple Lake.
Continue on Hickory Smoked
for some winding, wooded singletrack near Maple Lake. This part of the route features an armored water crossing as well as a challenging root system that can be bypassed or attacked with gusto for those seeking some challenge. At the end of this trail, stay right on the road for a short bit and then turn left on Bullwhip
starts with several wide switchback climbs and a single armored hump. From there, the trail transitions to tight turns followed by a short downhill run toward the parking lot at Pulaski Woods South. Continue straight across a dirt road to a short climb with some waterbars and berms, more climbing, before coming to an intersection with Palos Yellow Multitrack (East)
. Stay Right here and then make a quick left onto Pipeline
is an easy and smooth east-west route that will take you to the west side of Palos. Continue straight through the 4-way intersection with Ho Chi Minh
and then left at the Pipeline North
intersection. The trail eventually reaches its end at Dynamite Road
where you'll turn left.
Pedal Dynamite Road
past Psycho Path
, staying left at the intersection with Three Ravines
. This section is fairly smooth and not technical. Below Three Ravines
the trail drops into a fun and techy downhill with lots of rocks and roots.
Cross Dynamite Road
to get to XX/Canal Access from 104th Ave
. Drop in and then turn right on the XX Extension
. This part of the ride is an out-and-back with a short loop at the end. This is also one of the more scenic and challenging parts of Palos and should not be missed. Enjoy narrow trail with whoops followed by limestone rock gardens. The far end has a short loop with a short steep descent and climb.
When you get back to the XX/Canal Access from 104th Ave
connector, head back the way you came on Dynamite Road
. When you top out on the climb, turn right onto Three Ravines
is exactly as the name implies, three ravine crossings - each one very different in approach and execution. Three Ravines
runs predominantly downhill from the middle of Dynamite Road
to a three-way intersection with Ho Chi Minh
and One Day
. Since the trails can be ridden in either direction, it's wise to announce your presence entering each ravine to alert any oncoming riders.
After you've whooped it up on Three Ravines
, continue on One Day
. Enjoy fast and smooth singletrack with bermed switchbacks. On the eastern end of the trail, you'll pass on old homestead. Just before the intersection with Gravity Cavity
, you'll cross a small creek.
At the intersection, jump on Stonehouse
and enjoy some more fun and flow. This part of the route also winds through some of the most scenic areas of Palos. Along the way, you'll ride across several armored creek crossings and an old CCC shelter.
A series of switchbacks followed by a couple of creek crossings brings you to Burrito Hill
. Stay left here and pedal over to the Palos Yellow Multitrack (East)
Turn left here and follow this wider, crushed limestone trail west to the intersection with Bullwhip
. Stay right and finish the Palos tour, retracing your steps back to the Maple Lake East parking area.