Work was undertaken in the fall of 2008 to restore and reroute a long stretch of
singletrack that follows the south bank of the Salt Creek through Brookfield.
Anonymous volunteers set out to reclaim this run from 17th Avenue to 31st Street that had been cut off for at least the past 15 years by deadfall and flood deposits. Erosion had also become a major concern for much of the west end of this stretch, shown in purple on the map above .
This trail is now far from the banks of the creek, solving the erosion issue, and is quite technical in spots, with quite a few elevation changes (at least by Chicagoland forest preserve standards). The reroute also tied into some pretty ambitious BMX hills, although they appear to have not been used in a while.
The fact that few people are aware of this stretch of trail makes it an outstanding choice for a snow ride. Simply park on the street on 17th Avenue in North Riverside and cross the creek on the east side of 17th/Maple Ave.
Just a few yards after the guardrail that protects the bridge ends, you will notice a trailhead descending 10-15' into the woods. You have to be looking hard to catch it, but it is a well-developed trail from the moment you drop down into the woods. There is a sharp zig-zag to go around some large deadfall, and then the ride to the Brookfield Zoo begins.
This first stretch is as close to the creek as you will get until you meet up with the main trail network (delineated in blue above). Once it veers away from the creek, look for a deep gulley which you will have to carry over. This is where the BMX hills are located.
Continue up a rise to a short stretch that will take you past the exit to 26th Street and Park Avenue. A gallon jug hangs from a tree just a few yards west of this exit trail to act as a visual cue that it is there, which is helpful, as it is not a well-defined trail as of yet. I use this exit on my return trip to 17th/Maple Avenue to avoid the steep uphill to the street, and often take the singletrack on the west side of 17th on to the paved trail at Ostrander Avenue, where another network of singletrack trails begins.
Continuing south past the exit trail will take you to another gulley, although this one is ridable (as long as surf is down! This entire trail is a no-go when the water levels are up even moderately). This gulley intersects the old, bank-hugging trail that has all the deadfall and erosion issues with the new reroute, but it is pretty easy to see the new trail and avoid the old one. If you find yourself looking at the creek at any point past here until the intersection with the blue trail, you're on the wrong path.
The next stretch goes all the way to the Table Rock and the intersection with the main blue trails, and it does this by working its' way far from the creek, to the point where the houses on Forestview Avenue are almost visible. The deadfall situation required a lot of switchbacks and a couple of narrow passages, but this is a fun, fully ridable stretch that is mostly obvious to the eye.
After some rises and falls, you will come across another wide gulley and the Table Rock, aptly named because of its' size and shape. This gulley is rarely ridable, but getting across it puts you onto the main blue trails, so it is worth the short hike.