CHICAGO MOTORCYCLE GUIDETM

SCENIC RIDES 



Did you know Illinois has over 138,000 miles of public roadway!

Compass

LINKS


NEAR CHICAGO

EVERY SUNDAY:  Hundreds of Bikers gather at the Full Moon Restaurant located on Route US 41 (just so. of Rt. 137) in Lake Bluff, IL. from 6 AM to Noon.  The original meeting place (Highland House Restaurant) is closed.

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Short ride: (50 mi.)
Ride to Plainfield, go west on IL. Rt. 126 about 7 mi. to Grove Rd. Turn north on Grove Rd. to Oswego. When you get to Oswego you will intersect IL. Rt. 71. Turn right (northeast) on 71, turn right on Wolfs Crossing Road. (where Rts. 34 and 71 intersect) This road becomes 95th. street which takes you back to Naperville.  Courtesy of Dave


N.E. ILLINOIS

One of the nicer, and prettier rides in my area of Northern Illinois, is to go directly North on Route 45. After riding thorugh Libertyville and Mundelein, the road opens up to real country riding. Once you pass the Illinois State line into Wisconsin, you enter true rural America. As you go North, you can take various detours. For instance, go West on Route 50, and you end up in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Or, continue North, and you intersect the freeway to Milwaukee. However you do it, it's a nice run.  Courtesy of GR11@aol.com

For a rush of a lifetime, take Gilmer Rd. north to Rte. 176 and watch out for buffalo. Gilmer Rd. starts just north of Rte. 22 and Rte. 83 and goes northwest through some of the prettiest prairie, forest, horse ranches and buffalo that you can imagine. It's good spring, summer and fall. So don't miss it.  Courtesy of JMARA40@aol.com

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Sheridan Road, north from Evanston to Lake Bluff (appx. 22 miles) takes you along Lake Michigan's western shores through some of the most expensive real estate in the Midwest. Lots of stone mansions, wooded areas, winding two lane road and several points of interest along the way. Stop by Gross Point Light House in Evanston, Baha'i Temple in Wilmette, and Ft. Sheridan in Highwood.

Mineola Bay is "the oldest wooden structure in Illinois." It is a giant hotel that overlooks the Mineola Bay located in Fox Lake, Illinois and has been a historical landmark since before renown gangster, Al Capone, frequented the area. The bar is located on the main level and is known for their great food and beautiful views of the bay. Directions: (unsure of exact street names though would be available with a phone call). Take Route 12 (Rand) North past Route 134 into the town of Fox Lake and take a right on the very first street after the Chevy dealer. Go up the hill until the stop sign and make a left and then take your first right. The road will jog down to the Mineola, also known for their spectacular 4th of July fireworks displays.  Courtesy of Cherry@ameritech.net

Rt. 22 west from I-294, right along Lake Zurich, on to Rt. 14 West towards Crystal Lake. Before you get there, take a right turn on Main St. as you enter Cary, Ill. Main St. will take a sharp curve to the right, and meander a bit, but a couple of miles down the road, you will come to Hickory Nut Grove Rd. Take a left. You will soon pass the Hickory Grove Conservation area. This a large park and there seem to be numerous parking lots, and points of entry all around this area. But this one has some nice hiking trails, and a neat floating walkway out across part of the marshland, leaving you on some high ground out in the middle of the swamp. Scared up some deer, saw several hawks, bluebirds (a lot of bluebird boxes in this area), and many other birds. Fishing & horseback riding is allowed too. Continue north on Hickory Grove Rd, and it will take several bends and take you along what I think is the Fox River and past a bar on the river call Broken Oar (looks to be very popular with Harley riders). But watch out around here - the McHenry police do a brisk business of stopping bikers (esp. those with "license applied for" - make sure you have all of your papers) around Rawson Bridge Road, near the Broken Oar.  Courtesy of CGram@aol.com


N. CENTRAL ILLINOIS

Afternoon ride: (about 150 mi.)
Ride to Plainfield, go west on IL. Rt. 126 about 4 mi., turn south on Ridge Road, take that as far south as it goes. Turn right, (west) and just meander your way over to Ottawa. Take your time, you are bound to make a few wrong turns along the way. Enjoy the scenery while you try to get your bearings. The basic idea is to stay as close as you can to the Illinois River. You can stay on the north side of the river until Seneca. At Seneca, cross the river on IL. Rt. 170, then turn west again just over the bridge. Take that road west until you get to Rt. 23, turn right. (north) This will take you into Ottawa, where you will turn left (west) on IL. Rt. 71 to Starved Rock State Park. Lots of interesting stuff in the area - the park, the I&M canal, the Illinois River, etc. Rt. 71 between Ottawa and the park is very scenic too. Return on Rt 71, stop in Ottawa at the Dairy Queen. (you earned it!) Continue northeast on Rt. 71 all the way to Oswego. At Oswego, turn east on Wolfs Crossing Road.(go east where Rts. 34 and 71 intersect) This road becomes 95th street which takes you back to Naperville.  Courtesy of Dave


N.W. ILLINOIS

Illinois Rt. 2 between Rockford and Dixon is a great "color" jaunt in the autumn. Most of the first 30 miles from Rockford to Oregon, IL. runs between stone cliffs and the Rock River. The entire length of it is heavily wooded.

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West on Illinois U.S. 20 (west of Freeport) for 40 mi. to Galena. Visit Gen. U.S. Grant's home, then back east on U.S. 20 to Illinois Rt. 84 at Chestnut Mt. Ski Resort, then south on Rt. 84 for 90 mi. to Interstate 74 in Moline. Stop by the Fulton lock and damn #13 for a look at the river traffic. This historically designated "Great River Road" path follows the mighty Mississippi River's eastern banks.

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Day trip: (about 450 mi.)
Get to Oswego. Then take US Rt. 34 west about 50 mi until it intersects IL. Rt. 92. Turn right, go west on 92. Somewhere around the big river you will intersect Rt. 84. Take that north to Savanna. At US Rt. 64/52, go west, cross the river, continue on Rt. 52 which will take you north to Dubuque. This is the best part of the trip. Hills, river bluffs, very nice in the fall. At Dubuque, you have a number of choices. You can go north into Wisconsin and go east on Rt. 11. Or you can go north a few miles more and catch Rt. 81. Take these roads east and start wandering southward just past Janesville/Beloit. Finally, if you prefer to stay in IL., there are a number of options. You can take US 20 to Galena, and all the rest of the way back. Another option is to catch the Stagecoach Trail at Galena. Watch for the signs, or ask the locals. This road is not quite as panoramic as US 20, but the traffic is much lighter and the scenery is still quite nice. If you look at a map, this is the road that goes through Scales Mound, Apple River, Warren, and rejoins US 20 near Lena. Another option is to go south from Galena on Blackjack road which will intersect Rt 84 at Hanover. You can take Rt 84 down to Savanna, catch Rt 64 and go east straight across the state to return home.  Courtesy of Dave

A favorite of the VFR midwest internet listers:
1) Begin at Big Timber road and Randall road. (Big Timber is less than one mile south of the Randall exit at Interstate 90, a few miles west of Elgin). Big Timber west to where it dead ends. Go south (left) 25 yards, and hang a right (west) on Melms. Take Melms all the way out to Cherry Valley road, which runs into Harrison. Go just west of Route 20 on Harrison for Lunch at Kiegel's Harley Davidson diner in Rockford.  From Rockford, west on 20 bypass, to Rt 2 south. Take route 2 south to Rt 64 and head east back to Chicagoland - or- continue on Rt 2 all the way to Dixon. The Rt 2 drive along the river is just excellent.
2) Same Big Timber route to Melms, but, go west on Melms only a mile.  Proceed left (south) on Walker into the town of Burlington. Exit the town on it's western edge, and hang a right (west)onto McGough rd. McGough goes west, then south, and ends at Rt64 in near Sycamore. Go east back to Chicagoland, or west over to Rt 2.  At the Route 2/ Route 64 intersection, proceed up the east side of the river
for a brief stop at Lowden state park. Continue north along the river to German Church Road, where you hang a right (east). German Church heads south, and eventually swings you by the Byron nuclear power plant, eventually dropping you back onto Rt 64 a few miles east of Rt 2.
3) Route 47 south. Go south of Interstate 80, hang a right on Dupont road. Go west until it runs into Rt 23 (just south of the river and downtown Ottawa. Go right (north) on Rt 23 for a mile, then left (west) on Rt71 just before the river. The Rt 71 pass through Starved Rock state park is short, but one of the nicest around.
4)Take hwy 20 west of Freeport. Just past the town of Elroy, hang a right on
StageCoach road. About of 40 mile of great road which ends in downtown Galena, a great destination.  Courtesy of the Honda VFR Midwest Internet listers

Begin around St. Charles, IL heading west on RT 64 (that's North Ave for you city folk).  Follow RT 64 all the way to the Mississippi (100 mi).  Stop for a pop in Savanna IL, Main St(RT 64), at Poopies (Harley shop/tattoo parlor/bar).  Continue west on RT 64, over the Mississippi River into Iowa.  About 70 miles west of Mississippi to the town of Anamosa.  This is a biker kind of town, not one bar/resturaunt DOESN'T have the motorcycle motif going!  There's the National Motorcycle Museum, the locals are pleasant, there's a  beautiful old (over 100 yr old)State Penitentiary (looks like a castle built from old limestone), and a Penitentiary museum.  Leave early so you have plenty of time to go through both museums!   Courtesy of Desiree S.


S.W. WISCONSIN

Rt 60 Sauk City to Prairie du Chein, 120 miles. Meandering highway that follows the Wisconsin River Valley. Beautiful scenery, well-paved, many curvy sections. Fairly direct route from Madison, WI to Wyalusing State Park, where the Wisconsin and Mississipi Rivers meet. A great place to camp and look at the scenery.

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Kettle Moraine State Forest in Southern Wisconsin.

From the Chicago Northwest Suburbs take hwy. 14 north past Crystal Lake, (after Crystal Lake the road opens up and the traffic decreases) keep going through Woodstock, Harvard and when you get just past the state line near Walworth, take hwy 67 north. Continue on hwy. 67 north through Elkhorn, to Eagle Wisconsin. Once in Eagle follow the scenic drive signs through the Kettle Morain State Forest. There are several small highways that wind through the forest. Stop at one of the campgrounds and you can pick up a map showing the entire area. We leave early in the morning and make it back early afternoon. It is about 160 miles round trip from Palatine.  Courtesy of ejgard@enteract.com


N.W. INDIANA

One of the nicest rides in this area is along Hwy. US 12 from the Lake/Porter County Line (County Line Rd.) east along the National Lakeshore to Michigan City. There are several biker friendly saloons in this area. My favorites are:

There are many poker runs, ect. scheduled for this summer by these establishments.  Courtesy of Rick Knoble


SOUTHERN ILLINOIS

Shawnee National Forest

I'm a new rider and it's a long ride, but way back when I went to school at SIU it seemed that half the people there were from the Chicago area. Surprised not to see anyone mentioning this spot; it's the only national forest in the state of Illinois and one of the most beautiful spots in the country. Take Interstate 57 South and just keep go'in about 310 miles. Its straight and flat for about the first half. Terrain begins to roll a bit around Matoon. As an interesting side trip you can pick up Route 33 East around Effingham and continue to Route 130 South to the town of Olney. A colony of albino squirrels is the centerpiece of the town. Observe cautiously, they're protected and have unrestricted right of way by city ordinance; there's a $300 fine for injuring a squirrel. There's also a lot of history and local folklore concerning the arrival and presence of these little guys. Ask one of the locals about it and you'll think you're in the middle of a Founder's Day celebration in Mayberry, NC. Head back to I-57 South and, at the junction of Interstate Routes 57 and 24 you'll find yourself just about in the center of the forest. From here, take your map, pick a destination, take your bearing and be prepared to navigate by counting the intersections as many of the roads to the most beautiful destinations are unmarked. The forest lies in the foothills to the Ozark Mountains and is bordered by the Ohio River on the East and the Mississippi on the West and covers the majority of the Southern tip of the State. It's additionally peppered with numerous State Parks and countless towns with populations in the range of 300 - 500 between the natural borders. ALL campsites are pristine and those in the National Forest are typically stocked with cut hardwood for your fires for those who'd like to camp. On the Ohio River side you have spots like Garden of the Gods; Cave In Rock State Park where portions of the film, "How The West Was Won", was shot; Shawneetown, the first non-native settlement in the Northwest Territory and Roseclare, where the oldest inn in the state is located. On the Mississippi side you have spots like the Oakwood Bottoms, Turkey Bayou and Horseshoe Lake Conservation Areas. Horseshoe Lake's a 1,000 year old cypress swamp. The scenery is unique and unlike anyplace else in the US and has been profiled as such previously in National Geographic. Though the university's located in Carbondale which is a typical college town, the outlying areas remain rural and pristine. Pope County on the West side is the deer hunting Mecca of the state; more deer than people, but, for those who like to camp, the hunting camps are often virtually vacant outside of hunting season. I've camped down here in early Spring and only seen 2 or 3 other people in as many days in the forest. On typical trips I've spent one day in transit each way and 1-2 days hopping between parks, towns and hiking trails between the rivers, normally covering a total of 1,100 to 1,300 miles overall. Like I said, I'm a relatively new rider, but I'd love to hear from others possibly interested in making a trip like this.   Courtesy of Tom Beck



E-mail your favorite scenic riding locations to: CgoBiker@ameritech.net


A few words about the U.S.A.
I've had the privilige of visiting over two dozen foreign countries and have yet to find any that can compare to the beauty, vastness or unrestrictiveness of the United States. Think about that the next time you hit the open roads of America.
                                                                                                                                                  ~Chicago Skip~


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