Bike, Hike & Paddle in Elgin, Illinois

Discover outdoor adventures along the Fox River Trails

The Fox River Trails offer more than 40 miles of guaranteed fun. They run beside the scenic Fox River in Northern Illinois, alongside historic railroad lines, crossing six bridges and passing through nature preserves and charming towns. Visitors more inclined to float find plenty of places to put in a kayak or canoe along the Fox River.

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On land

The multi-use trails offer the perfect outing for spirited cyclists, hikers, families and outdoor aficionados. Most of the trail surface is paved asphalt or crushed stone. No weather is too extreme to take advantage of the paths. If your bike does not have snow tires, break out the snowshoes or cross-country skis.

If you are visiting without your bike, find outfitters ready to rent you a ride. Main Street Bikes offers bike rentals, while Village Peddler has bike sales and maintenance. En route, refuel at one of the many adjacent restaurants or pack a lunch and pull over at one of the many picnic spots. No matter what brings you to the trails, enjoy the ride!

The Elgin area is 45 minutes northwest of Chicago. The easiest spot to access the Fox River Trails is at The Depot in East Dundee. Or park in one of the free garages in downtown Elgin and head north to visit East Dundee and Carpentersville, or head south and explore South Elgin. Visitors from Chicago are able to bring their bikes on Metra’s Milwaukee District West Line and get off at the National Street or Elgin exits, both a block from the trails.

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On water

If you can’t bring your own watercraft, rent one for the day.

Buffalo Park Forest Preserve is a gorgeous spot to start a kayak or canoe trip. Paddle through West Dundee on your way to Voyageur Landing Forest Preserve just north of Elgin. The seven-mile trek is perfect for beginner and intermediate paddlers. Try another beginner-to-intermediate paddle trip just south of Elgin, this one ten miles from Blackhawk County Forest Preserve to Fabyan Forest Preserve.

If you can’t bring your own watercraft, rent one for the day. Kayak Myak Rentals or South Elgin Canoe will get you geared up for an adventure on the water. You can even join the group tours they offer. Check out other launch sites, book a guided canoe tour and learn more about the Fox River Water Trails.

There is also first-rate fishing along the Fox River, with many public spots to fish for bass, catfish and walleye. And, of course, there are plenty of tackle shops to hook you up with the right gear. The Carpentersville Dam is a favorite local fishing hole. The dam has become legendary among anglers for record-breaking walleye and smallmouth bass.

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Stop along the way

The Fox River Trails pass through many forest preserves and by popular attractions, offering weary cyclists and paddlers the perfect excuse to take a break. Here are just a few favorites enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.

Fox River Shores Forest Preserve

Located alongside the river in Carpentersville, Fox River Shores is home to some unusually steep, swampy habitats with rare plants like Vanilla Grass. In spring, the hills surrounding the Fox River blossom with crabapples and plums. Bring your boat to take advantage of the launch or binoculars for an inspection of this natural gem and its inhabitants.

Tekakwitha Woods

Named after a beatified Mohawk Indian, Tekakwitha Woods is 65-acre forest preserve south of Elgin at the big bend of the Fox River. The preserve features hiking trails and a nature center with interactive exhibits exploring the history of Kane County.

Gail Borden Public Library

This is the perfect spot for families to stop for a break while out exploring the Fox River Bike Trail. Grab some water, cool off and enjoy a donut or iced coffee from Craft Donuts & Coffee. Gail Borden Public Library is the third largest library building in Illinois and a community center for the region. The library attracts museum exhibits such as Looney Tunes and Lego Architecture.

Grand Victoria Casino

Adults exploring the Fox River Trails can stop for gourmet food, an adult beverage or even a chance at lady luck. Grand Victoria Casino is located right off the trail and houses four restaurants with options including gourmet burgers, a deli and a steakhouse. They also offer plenty of bike racks.

Van’s Frozen Custard

Families have been riding their bikes to Van’s, located along the Fox River Trails in East Dundee, since 2012. Riding a couple of extra miles does not seem so bad when frozen custard is waiting for cyclists when they arrive.

Dundee Depot Market & Visitors Center

Mingle with locals at this resting place popular with users of the trails. The Depot hosts a marketplace on Saturdays mid-May through October, with 40 vendors selling seasonal produce and baked goodies.

Keith Andres Bike Park

Highly skilled, daredevil riders hop off of the trail near Carpentersville and shred at this mountain bike and bmx park, complete with jumps and obstacles strategically placed throughout the 25-acre property.

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