Living in the city of Chicago, when it comes to dog walking, your usual routes are strolling around the blocks near your home or packing up and heading to the dog park. But for many dog owners, that’s not quite satisfying. Lots of dogs have a lot of pent up energy that needs to be burned off, and many of those dogs’ owners love hitting the trails for a longer hike or walk. If that sounds like you, you might already know about some of these trails that are great for longer walks, but chances are you haven’t yet visited all of them. Here are our favorite trails in Chicago for dog walking.
The Caldwell Woods branch of the Cook County Forest Preserves is located to the northwest of Albany Park, and offers both paved and unpaved trails that connect to the North Branch Trail System, and are easily accessible by car. Enter on Milwaukee and Devon Avenues, then follow the trails through wooded areas and along the Chicago River. Dogs must remain leashed on this trail, but it’s a popular destination for dog lovers who want to leave the city behind.
North Branch Trail
This trail is an 18-mile length that runs along the North Branch of the Chicago River and the Skokie Lagoons, with access to a variety of picnic groves and other parks along the way. Take this trail far enough north and you’ll wind up at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. It’s a perfect trip for you and your dog, and is accessible via the Caldwell Woods, Linne Woods, Harms Woods, and other spots—check out the map of this trail here.
An elevated trail that spans from Ridgeway to Ashland and the Kennedy Expressway along Bloomingdale Ave., The 606—formerly known as the Bloomingdale Trail—is a paved, well-lit trail. Its 2.7-mile length makes it one of the shorter options, but at Cruisin’ Canines, we love it because it’s in the heart of our service area, so we’re very familiar with the surrounding neighborhoods, including Logan Square,Wicker Park, and Bucktown.
Palos Trail System
The Palos Preserves are located in southwest Cook County, and are easily accessible via the Maple Lake East Mountain Bike Staging Area, Buffalo Woods, and the Red Gate Woods. Some of the area’s best quality natural areas are located in the Palos Trail System, which spans 38.9 miles of unpaved trail. Because cyclists, mountain bikers, and horseback riders often share these trails, you’ll want to keep your dog leashed for everyone’s safety.
Finally, LaBagh Woods makes our list due to its natural beauty. Patrons include dog-walkers like you, as well as bikers, runners, picnic groups and families. Wooded riverbanks and hills along the river keep things interesting, and Cooper’s hawks are known to swoop over the area’s treetops. Trails here are unpaved, and you’ll want to keep your dog leashed as the area is not fenced in, but if you’re looking for a trail that’s close to home but feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city, this is it.
What are your favorite city getaways for hiking or dog walking?