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Lake County Forest Preserves | Preservation, Restoration, Education and Recreation


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Des Plaines River Trail Challenge

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The Challenge is now over. Thanks to everyone who traveled the entire 31.4-mile Des Plaines River Trail. As of November 30, we had 325 Challenge takers and 14 individuals who accepted the Challenge to donate $100 toward trail maintenance. We loved hearing your stories and receiving your photos. While the Challenge is now over, travel logs can be turned in through January 31, 2017. Drawing for sponsor-donated raffle prizes will be held on February 1, 2017.

The final section of the Des Plaines River Trail and Greenway was completed in late 2015. This fulfills a vision 54 years in the making for an unbroken greenway along the Des Plaines River that includes a contiguous trail spanning the length of the county––from Russell Road just south of the Wisconsin border to Lake Cook Road. 

Help celebrate this amazing gem by using it—all of it. Bike it. Boat it. Walk it or run it. Bring along family, friends, and your dogs, too. Or, you can make a donation to help us keep it clean and safe. We’re looking for fellow trail lovers to be ambassadors, supporting this Lake County treasure and spreading the word to others about its greatness.

Challenge Guidelines

  • Travel the entire trail between August 1 and November 30, 2016. 
  • Complete your journey by foot, bike or boat, your choice. Mix it up if you'd like.
  • Travel the entire 31.4 miles all in one trip, or go back as many times as it takes to finish. 
  • Download and print the Challenge Log to record your travel dates and lengths. Bring your completed log to our General Offices in Libertyville, open weekdays, 8 am–4:30 pm, 847-367-6640, by January 31, 2017 to receive your reward and be entered to win raffle prizes.

Planning Your Trip

Use our interactive trail map to help chart your course. It opens to a full-trail view. Click on the legend on the left and then use the zoom (+) to find trail access points, underpass closings, parking lots, informational kiosks, toilets, drinking fountains, even a lunch stop at the Independence Grove Café. Click the basemap icon to toggle between image or topography view. The compass icon will show your current location and the ruler can be used to measure distances.

Interactive Trail Map     Downloadable PDF Trail Map

Another Way to Show Support

You can take the Challenge by making a tax-deductible donation through the Preservation Foundation of the Lake County Forest Preserves. Your gift will help with maintenance and trail safety, critical in a time of flat or shrinking public budgets. Trail upkeep costs $9,000 per mile annually to mow, repair gravel, patrol, trim limbs, and clear trash. A donation of any amount is meaningful. If you become a Des Plaines River Trail Champion at the $100 level, you will receive a commemorative sling bag.

Donate to the Trail

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Accept the Challenge and complete the entire trail or make a donation to receive bragging rights, a sense of fulfillment and, of course, our hearty congratulations. We’ll top that off with a commemorative “I Took the Challenge” sling bag.

Raffle Prizes

Everyone who completes the Challenge will be entered to win one of our great raffle prizes—gift cards, biking gear, hiking accessories—donated by our generous Challenge sponsors:

B & G Cyclery
Chris Cycle Inc.

Deerfield Cyclery
George Garner Cyclery
M & M Cyclery
Northerly Outfitters

This trail journey is on the honor system. To receive your commemorative prize and show off your photos, bring your completed Challenge Log to our General Offices in Libertyville, open weekdays, 8 am–4:30 pm, 847-367-6640, by January 31, 2017. 
Map and directions »


Des Plaines River Trail

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Check the current status (open/closed) of trails and underpasses along the Des Plaines River Trail, the Millennium Trail, community trail connections, and preserve trails marked on the map below. Public access is restricted at closed trails and underpasses.


TRAVEL THE TRAIL MILE-BY-MILE blog authors created a special year-long documentary in 2015 that highlighted the Des Plaines River Trail. These Forest Preserve staff members hiked the entire trail in anticipation of its completion. After each hike, they shared their experience. Read blog entries.


The following video was produced by The Daily Herald, 10-19-15

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