Waterfall Glen Fatbike Ride

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Waterfall Glen Trail in southwest suburban Darien is a nice, 9-mile crushed limestone multi-use path, which encircles the Argonne National Laboratory.

Waterfall Glen is a perfect getaway for a day bike trip in Chicago in any season. For one thing, it's a loop trail, and as such, a bit of a rarity in our area dominated by linear rail-to-trail paths. It's lovely to be able to complete a ride without having to retrace your steps.

The scenery is gorgeous, featuring glacier-carved rock ridges, ravines and wetland potholes, which are not found anywhere else in DuPage County. Waterfall Glen’s prairies, savannas and oak-maple woodlands contain over 700 native plants species, and this rich habitat fosters more than 300 species of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles.

The winter season uncovers some of the most spectacular aspects of the landscape. Foliage doesn't obscure the contour of the terrain or the drama of the oak branches reaching for the sky.

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The trail itself is gently rolling, and moderately easy, with a few climbs which may be challenging to novice riders. Our fatbike ride was made more strenuous by the ultra-low-pressure fat tires, which require consistent pedaling, even on descents. Near-freezing conditions created barely-visible ice patches in some places, and soft, squishy terrain in others, which provided additional challenge and added a bit of unpredictability.

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We like to start at the Trailhead Parking Lot off I-55 and Cass Ave. at the northern edge of the park, and ride in the counter-clockwise direction. This allows us to get a good bit of the riding done, and work up a little appetite before stopping for a picnic at what is surely the highlight of the trail: the Rocky Glen Waterfall. Scones and bracing hot tea are especially tasty with the mist falling all around.

Date of ride: January 11, 2017
Distance: 11 miles (9 mile loop, plus some side trails. Bikes must stay on designated limestone trails)
Weather: Light rain, low 30's
More info and directions here.