Last Autumn we took you along on our first walk to the new North Branch trail’s spur connecting the Edgebrook neighborhood north to the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. Knowing that another section of the trail is planned, but not when, we kept our eye out for updates.
We were so excited to find out that the new southern extension of the North Branch trail opened earlier this month. The Lady never saw any signs of construction of the new trail like she did for the spur we showed you last year. With another stretch of mild, dry days ahead it didn’t take long to find a chance to check it out.
We parked in the same lot as last year at the Thaddeus S. “Ted” Lechowicz Woods (located at the red star), but this time, instead of heading north to Edgebrook, we took the trail south to the Forest Glen Woods.
The North Branch Trail is a full 22 miles of nature and wildlife with the newly completed southern extension of the Forest Preserves of Cook County’s (FPCC) North Branch Trail. The new trail segment extends the existing North Branch Trail three miles south, from Devon Avenue and Caldwell Avenue to Foster Avenue and Kostner Avenue, in Chicago, winding north as far as the Chicago Botanic Gardens in Glencoe. Our map only goes as far north as Skokie for practical reasons. We’re focusing on the short stretch of red at the bottom from the star south.
Taffy is sitting with the bridge over the north branch of the Chicago River behind her that we walked across on our previous walk. We found three reasons to take the new southern extension of the North Branch Trail:
Not long after walking on the path we crossed a long railroad bridge over the Metra train tracks. Just as we crossed the bridge we saw three deer, a mother and her two fawns, cross right in front of us (that’s the train tracks behind them)! Taffy went on prey alert immediately. As we walked along the trail we watched the deer, but they watched us too. The Lady couldn’t tell if they are very tame because of all the people on the trail, or she was keeping an eye on us protecting her babies. We’re pretty sure of the latter. We watched the deer for some time, even walking into the woods some to get closer. They continued to watch us.
Finally we continued on, leaving the deer behind us, but Taffy, our huntress, saw them cross the trail behind us again, freezing in her prey stance to watch.
This section of the trail is very scenic, especially compared to the spur north that winds through very busy intersections. Here we are completely cut off from any busy roads, winding between heavy forests, with lots of shade. The trail winds with moderate inclines, giving walkers and bikers a nice challenge. We always walk on the edge of the paved path or in the grass to let bikes pass us easily. Even on a weekday morning we saw plenty of bikes and walkers, many with dogs.
It didn’t seem to take us long to make it to the Forest Glen Woods, maybe about a mile. Ready with her new Apple Watch Series 2 to track our progress, the Lady quickly learned that technology is only as good as the person using it, finding it impossible to pause, and start the timer to accurately track our progress.
We didn’t have an exact plan for our walk, only to make sure that we didn’t go too far to have to turn around and go back. That was at the Forest Glen Woods. When we came out of the woods we found ourselves in a residential area surrounding the forest preserve. There were people mowing the grass and taking care of the area, and there were rest rooms. The Lady used these to fill our water bowl, giving us a rest before heading back.
On the walk back we caught glimpses of the north branch of the Chicago River. Although we don’t cross it like we did in the spur north, there are nice views and plenty of paths to take you closer to the river.
Heading back toward the bridge the Lady refused to give up on me, letting me pose again as she lugged her DSL for this trip. I love to jump up on anything for a picture, especially fallen trees, compared to having to sit and stay in front of a stupid sign.
After our break we headed back to the car. Another highlight of this section of the trail is the long bridge taking us over the commuter train tracks.
The bridge has a moderate incline, with no shade, and even in our barely 70-degree temperatures we found it pretty hot. But once over the bridge it wasn’t much further to the car. We really enjoyed this part of the trail and can’t wait to take the remainder of it to Foster Avenue.
That’s because the FPCC has a fun contest and social-media-driven challenge we want to enter. Postcards from the North Branch Trail is a two-month photo-sharing event encouraging new and existing visitors to share their experiences on the extended trail, which winds through ten communities. Visitors can take photos in life-sized postcards located at six key trail locations, and then post their photos on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
We weren’t aware of the contest when we took our walk, but plan to return before October 15th when the contest ends. That’s when we finish our next leg of the walk from Forest Glen to the Irene C. Hernandez Family Picnic Area, a location of a postcard, we’ll take our picture there.
We hope you enjoyed our tour of the North Branch Trail’s southern extension!