Exploring Naperville’s Trails

Looking for an adventure this summer? There are over 200 miles of trails to travel in Naperville and DuPage County.

Hiking, running, or riding, on dirt, crushed limestone, or asphalt -Naperville’s trails are available for a wide variety of uses, letting you get away, without going too far from home.

If you want to hit the trails but aren’t sure where to start, check the Naperville Park District and DuPage and Will County Forest Preserves’ websites. They all have facility and trail information, including distance, trail material, and on-site amenities, so you can plan your trip.

“Take a look at the preserves near your home or a preserve you want to venture to, and look at the map, plan your route. Know how long you want to hike for,” said Justin Frederick, Manager of Site Operations with the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County.

You’ll want to pick a distance suitable for your activity level, though most of Naperville’s trails are relatively flat and well maintained, making them good for hikers of all ages and skill levels. But different materials may make them more suited for one use than another.

“The larger asphalt trails that range from 10 to 12 feet wide are most suitable for biking, roller blading, but also running and jogging. More of our natural stone trails are for walking or passive recreation like bird watching,” said Eric Shutes, Director of Planning with the Naperville Park District. “A lot of users decide over time which trials best fit their needs.“

Gravel and asphalt are best if you want to walk with a stroller, and if you’re bringing kids, consider trails that have amenities like playgrounds and restrooms.

And be sure to bring enough snacks, bug spray, sunscreen, and especially water for your whole party.

For those looking to take the road less traveled, the Naperville Park District has some smaller footpaths and game trails, which are gradually created over long-term use. These are also known as “paths of desire.”

“Paths of desire are paths that people create overtime by utilizing our trail systems. A lot of the time there’s different features or points of interest that people want to see and they can create these trails,” said Shutes.

If you are going to step off the beaten path, wear long sleeves and pants to protect yourself from things like ticks and poison ivy.

When you’re out in the forests, don’t forget to be courteous to other trail users, and have fun when you hit the trails.

Naperville News 17’s Blane Erwin reports.

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