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The Busse Woods Bike Trail

The Ned Brown Preserve, also known as Busse Woods, is just 5 minutes from the Elk Grove Hotel and is a 3700 acre holding located in northwestern Cook County in Illinois. Busse Woods is situated on the flood plain and morainal uplands along Salt Creek. It is one of the best remaining examples of mesic and dry-mesic upland forest in the Eastern Central Lowlands. According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the site contains the upland forest tree species that are typical of rich prairie groves. They include many species of oak and hickory trees along with basswood, sugar maple, and black ash trees. Woodland wildflowers like bloodroot, wild geranium, jack-in-the-pulpit, great white trillium, and woodland phlox bloom in the preserve.

Busse Woods also houses Busse Lake, which comprises of three pools. The 590 acre Busse Lake is the largest lake in the Cook County forest preserves. In 1978, the county created the lake by damming Salt Creek as part of a flood control program. The lake is managed for game fish, including large mouth bass, bluegill, bullhead, pike, walleye, crappie, and channel catfish.

Busse Woods is a National Natural Landmark and is one of the most frequently visited parks in the state of Illinois.


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The Elk Herd at the start of this Busse Woods Bike Trail photo trip
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One of the Bridges over Salt Creek.
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Lake view in the distance off the Busse Woods bike trail.


The Busse Woods Trail is located in the Ned Brown Forest Preserve just 5 minutes from the Elk Grove Hotel in northwestern Cook county, Illinois. You can actually ride around 20 miles on the Busse Woods bike trails if you take all of the branches and take the leg that crosses route 290 via the Elk Grove community bridge.

The Busse Woods bicycle trail is a really nice, paved, trail system in the heart of the busy Northwest suburbs (of Chicago). You can get to the trails at numerous forest preserve entrances and locations, many off of Route 72, Higgins Road, or at the Elk Herd off of Arlington Heights road.

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Here’s a wide view of one of the bridges, west of Busse Lake, on the southern end of the path.

There are some very nice features to the Busse Woods trails and a few disadvantages. Some of the nicer features include the elk herd, the beautiful meadows, woods and lakes and the convenient location (for those who live in the northwest suburbs). The major disadvantage (to me anyway) is, since it is so beautiful, is paved and located in the heart of the suburbs, is that it gets VERY crowded at times (especially on nice weekends). The trail traffic can get pretty heavy with all sorts of people. walkers, runners, familys, roller bladers and of course bikers (of all kinds, from serious to kids to casual). Another slight disadvantage (but getting better now, it seems) is that these trails do not connect to a lot of other bike trails.

If you can, take the trail at an off time (during the work week, very early in the morning, or on a day that is a little too cold for the woosy riders, etc.) you will be able to enjoy this beautiful trail much more. (unless of course, you like crowds or like to watch the girls on roller blades or something like that).

There are also some other side attractions such as lots of boaters, fisherman, some major kite flyers and I there is a RC airplane field in one of the groves too. I know there is one in nearby Deer Grove (to the north) and it is fun to watch the flyers do their aerobatics.


There are some great maps (Adobe and html) and some great information at the Busse Woods Trail System page of the Cook County Forest Preserve site.

Just in case they move these pages and maps around, on the internet (it happens sometimes before I get my pages updated) Here is a Photo of the Busse Woods Trail MAP that I took along the of the Elk Grove community bridge leg.