The best way to enjoy the outdoors in Elgin, IL
The Fox River Bike Trails in Elgin, Illinois, 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.
The trails are the perfect outing for spirited cyclists, hikers, families and outdoor aficionados. 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.
Find food en route 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!
How to get to the Fox River Bike Trails
The Elgin area is only 45 minutes northwest of downtown Chicago. Once here, the easiest spot to access the Fox River Bike Trails in the Elgin area is by The Depot (319 N. River St., East Dundee, IL 60118).
Another great spot to access the trails is in downtown Elgin. Park in one of the free parking garages, and then head north to visit East Dundee and Carpentersville, or head south and explore South Elgin. Explore a map of the Fox River Bike Trails.
Visitors coming from Chicago to Elgin 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 bike trails. Check out the train schedule and a map of the line.
Where to fish along the Fox River Bike Trails
There is 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.
Visit I Fish Illinois for information about licensing, camping, lake details and fishing reports.
Where to boat or kayak on the Fox River
Take a break in West Dundee to experience Voyageur Landing Forest Preserve. The boat launch here is popular for a reason—this is a gorgeous spot to kayak or boat, toss a line in or kick back with a cold one on the deck and watch the eagles like a hawk. Check out other launch sites or book a guided canoe tour by visiting our guide to the Fox River Water Trails.
Things to do along the Fox River Bike Trails
Nature centers and forest preserves
The Fox River Bike Trails pass through many forest preserves, offering weary cyclists the perfect excuse to ease off the pedals and soak up the natural beauty of the river. Native flyers you may see include herons, woodpeckers and bald eagles.
The list below is just a taste of the forest preserves and other attractions along the Fox River Bike Trails.
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.
Hawthorne Hill Nature Center
At Hawthorne Hill, you will find a community dedicated to nature preservation and education. Activities, exhibits and events supplement the area’s natural state, which, on its own, inspires visitors to appreciate nature as it is. With two ponds, acres of woodland, a mile of looped trails and an interactive nature center, Hawthorne Hill is a great place to relax and discover the outdoors in Elgin. Do not leave anyone in the family out—wide, wood-chipped trails make for easy hikes, and there is even a wheelchair-friendly trail leading to a sedge meadow and pond.
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.
Places to recharge
Gail Borden Public Library
Cyclists looking to recharge cell phones or relax their legs can make a stop at Gail Borden Public Library. Stop in to cool off, or bring the kids and slide into the national pastime and discover Major League Baseball’s oldest city rivalry: the White Sox vs. Chicago Cubs. This interactive exhibit, will let you explore ballparks, the history of this epic rivalry, the teams’ logos and uniforms, and more. Also learn about the women’s professional team Rockford Peaches as well the accomplishments of the Negro Baseball League! Families can make this a destination on the trails or a starting point because kids will have so much fun. Gail Borden Public Library also featured Craft Donuts & Coffee.
Grand Victoria Casino
Adults exploring the Fox River Bike Trails can stop for gourmet food, an adult beverage or even a chance at lady luck. Grand Victoria Casino is located right on the Fox River Bike Trails. Grand Victoria Casino houses four restaurants with options including gourmet burgers, a deli and a steakhouse. They also offer lots of bike racks for ample parking.
Van’s Frozen Custard
Families have been riding their bikes to Van’s Frozen Custard, located along the Fox River Bike 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.
Events near the Fox River Bike Trails
As if you need even more incentive to spend time along the Fox River Bike Trails, these special summer events are sure to entertain:
- Sox vs Cubs The Chicago Civil War at Gail Borden Public Library: May–August 13, 2019
- Downtown Elgin Farmers’ Market: June 7–October 4, 2019
- City of Elgin’s Fourth of July Concert & Fireworks: July 4, 2019
- Elgin’s Movies in the Park: July 11–August 13, 2019
- Elgin’s Concerts in the Park: June 18-July 30, 2019
- Elgin’s Art & Soul on the Fox: August 4–5, 2019
- Elgin Fringe Festival: September 6-15, 2019
- Nightmare on Chicago Street: October 19, 2019
If you want to explore the trails for multiple days, check out the special rates and Elgin hotel deals.