Rivers are enchanting in the cold white of winter. The Des Plaines River in Illinois and Wisconsin is no exception. Most trails offer only occasional glimpses of rivers, but the Des Plaines River Trail follows the river along a 31-mile stretch of winter beauty.

85% of the river habitat in Lake County is protected in this stretch of land. It joins together forest preserves, communities, and parks along the way. One break in the trail, at least for snowmobiles, occurs at the Ryerson Conservation area, where the vehicles are rerouted to a trail between the northern terminus of Russell Road and Wadsworth Road. Plans are in the works to resolve the need for rerouting.

Along the way, you’ll also enjoy the water of the Macarthur Woods Lake, a nice little area with restrooms available. This trail has it all. You’ve got the beautiful river, the scenic lake... and a view of Six Flags’ rollercoasters? Yes, as you leave the woods under the Washington Road underpass, you’ll catch a glimpse of the amusement park.

In warmer weather, the trail is a crushed stone path fun for walking, horseback riding, or mountain biking. In the winter it is used for both snowmobiling and cross country skiing. Visitors to this trail enjoy the scenery and seclusion on a long and easy ride.

To get to the trail from Des Plaines, Illinois, take Henry Avenue traveling east until you hit Des Plaines River Road/South River Road. Take a left onto Des Plaines River Road and go 5 miles. Turn left on IL-21/US-45/South Milwaukee Avenue and drive another 3.5 miles. Take a right at the trailhead. Have fun!