Outerbelt Trail offers 210 miles of hiking around Chicago, neighboring suburbs

CHICAGO (WLS) -- When you think about Chicago, you normally think about the food, the sites and the architecture. Nature usually isn't anywhere on the list, until now.

"There's all of this beautiful stuff, and people have no idea that it's down here," Outerbelt Alliance President Jay Readey said.

Readey spearheaded the creation of the Outerbelt trail, a 210-mile hiking trail that runs entirely around Chicago and its neighboring suburbs.

"It's not a new trail and it wasn't a trail constructed with this intent of being this continuous loop," said Lauren Umek, Outerbelt Alliance board member. "It's kind of like the trail existed but you just didn't know it was there. It's kind of a trail by accident."

It's made up of trails that belong to different forest preserves, municipalities and even the Chicago Park District.

"For people who think they need to go to Wisconsin or Colorado or Wyoming to get a real backwoods experience, I think those are the folks who want to discover what Cook County has that they might not have realized that it's right here," Readey said.

The trail runs as far north as Lake Bluff, as far west as Elmhurst and even runs right along the Lakefront.

"It goes by museums, it goes by nature centers, you could stop and take a day off and canoe for a day. So you can add side trips on to it and be a tourist in Chicago whether you live here or not," said Molly Fitzgibbon, Outerbelt Alliance board member.

Many trails are paved, others covered with limestone, while some are just good old fashioned dirt paths.

To find a map of the full Outerbelt Trail, you can visit the Outerbelt's Alliance website.
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