The unofficial beginning of the North Branch Trail
The North Branch Trail
The unofficial trailhead for the North Branch Trail is marked by a giant hot dog dressed like Tarzan and his frankfurter sweetie. That’s because it’s in the parking lot of Superdawg, the landmark Chicago drive-in. In a way, the first 100 yards is the best part of this 17-mile bike route. A quick spin across the parking lot leads to a steep hill with a sign reading please walk bikes. You can obey, or you can half-ass it down, squeezing the brakes, or you can throw caution to the wind and let ’er rip. If you let gravity take its course, you’ll fly down the hill and shoot around a blind bend that spits you out into a meadow with a huge, rusty toboggan slide abandoned by the Cook County Forest Preserve for lack of funds. Heading north through the forest preserve toward the Chicago Botanic Garden, you cross a little bridge over the Chicago River, then pass bucolic fields, picnic tables, pump wells, and porta-potties until the woods start to get a little denser and the city slips away. And when you return, famished, there’s no question about where you’re eating dinner. Superdawg, 6363 N. Milwaukee, 773-763-0660. —Jennifer Sodini
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