5 Awesome Trail Running Spots in Illinois

By April Dowling

5 Awesome Trail Running Spots in Illinois

Nothing beats running on a nature trail through wilderness. Illinois offers hundreds of running trails, all of which boast scenic views around every corner. Varying in length and terrain, these five awesome trail running spots in Illinois each bring a unique experience for adventurous runners. 

1. Busse Forest Trails

Busse Forest Trail winds through the 3,558-acre Ned Brown Forest Preserve, circling around lakes and meadows. This trail is over 11 miles-long and ideal for running or jogging. Runners can choose to take the main loop, which is approximately eight miles, or the shorter side loops leading to the edges of the forest. 

2. Des Plaines River Trail

The Des Plaines River Trail winds along the Des Plaines River and is suitable for both novice and experienced runners. This long, lush trail is over 56 miles long and features diverse terrain for an adventurous run on a variety of trail surfaces including crushed stone, pavement, and dirt paths through forests. Runners can also catch glimpses of native wildlife such as deer, turtles, and birds. 

3. Centennial Trail

This 13-mile trail is ideal for runners seeking both natural and industrial scenery. Centennial Trail features a historic swing bridge and offers both paved and crushed limestone surfaces. Runners can experience woodlands and ample wildlife, particularly birds, and wildflowers in the warmer months. This trail is also very peaceful and quiet. 

4. Hennepin Canal State Trail

The Hennepin Canal State Trail is ideal for a historic run along an old canal. Runners can also experience abundant wildlife and lush vegetation that is particularly vibrant during the fall. More advanced runners often try the 4.5-mile trail in the main complex, which features more diverse landscapes including grasslands, marshes, and tall timbers. 

5. Chicago Lakefront Trail

The Chicago Lakefront Trail offers some of the most beautiful views of Lake Michigan and Chicago. This 18-mile trail is often frequented by commuters, tourists, and recreational enthusiasts regardless of the season. Runners appreciate the interesting sites including beaches, museums, and parks, in the area. The trail starts at the South Shore Cultural Center and ends at Kathy Osterman Beach. 

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