Ride 22: Pedaling the Channel
Biking Illinois: 60 Great Road Trips and Trail Rides
Evanston, IL May 25, 2005
I have done this ride many times since the trail along the North Branch of the Chicago River and the North Shore Channel is only a quarter of a mile from my house. Overall, it is a pleasant but relatively unknown trail used almost exclusively by local residents. For the book, I decided to start near the north end in Evanston where there is ample parking at Ladd Arboretum. The arboretum's Ecology Center lies to the north.
UPDATE: When I wrote Biking Illinois, the trail through Ladd Arboretum (just north of Ride 22) was crushed stone with poor drainage. Now it is paved with asphalt.
The International Friendship Garden is shaped like the Rotary Club logo.
A recent addition to the park along the North Shore Channel is this statue of Mohandas Gandhi, which was dedicated in October 2004.
The Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park is a highlight of this ride. It begins with a circle of flags representing the many ethnicities that comprise the village of Skokie.
There are about 70 outdoor sculptures along the next two miles.
New signs were being installed when I rode the trail in May 2005.
The North Shore Channel and the Chicago River are much cleaner than they used to be. I met a runner on the Tunnel Hill State Trail who told me he grew up near the channel 20 years ago, and there were always condoms floating in the water. Unfortunately, these polluted waterways still have a long way to go.
Uh-oh, now I'm lost!
A certain Chicago alderman is wholly responsible for the lousy crossing on the Lincoln Avenue Bridge. Money was allocated to build a trail bridge across the North Shore Channel here, but the alderman wouldn't allow it. The stupid thing is that it wasn't a matter of spending the money elsewhere—it was "use it or lose it" money, and the odds of getting funding again for this bridge in the future are pretty slim. Probably even the best Cincinnati criminal defense lawyer wouldn't be able to argue the case to get the funds allocated again. Instead, cyclists have to negotiate a narrow sidewalk dotted with streetlamps, then double back north a short distance to return to the trail to go south under Lincoln Avenue. The photos below show the views from the west and east sides of the channel respectively.
Okay, I dropped the ball here. I didn't take any pictures of the last couple miles of the path. I guess it was too familiar to me since I have run and biked the Chicago portion of the trail a hundred times or more.
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