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Cycling Thu Jul 21 2011

Dry, Crowded Trails at Palos (Finally!)


Two Half Acre Cycling riders climb the grassy hill at last year's Palos Meltdown race / Photo: Amy Dykema

Area mountain bikers have been moping for months. Groups have been carpooling up to Wisconsin's Kettle Moraine, wishing Ray's were open during the summer or even resorting to riding on the dreaded pavement to get some miles in. Chicago's unusually long, wet, cold spring took its toll on local trails this year.

But the weather has finally heated up and dried out enough to help all of the mud-slogged singletrack trails at Palos Forest Preserve turn to perfectly packed dirt.

And everyone is making up for lost time. Hikers, bikers, runners and equestrians are flocking to Palos on the weekends and trails are as crowded as they've been in recent memory. Huge groups of bikers are plowing down the big grassy hill while strings of trail runners traverse roots and ravines. For maps and guides to the trails, click here.

With two-way, multi-use trails like those at Palos, it's important to adhere to trail etiquette. First and foremost, always be vocal. Call out before passing another rider, whipping through a trail that hasn't been cut back or dropping into a ravine if you can't see the other end. Riders climbing uphill always have the right of way, so riders heading downhill should use both brakes and pull over. When riding in groups, let others know how many more people are behind you as you pass them.

Of course, always stay hydrated and bug-sprayed. Mosquitoes at Palos are ruthless.

For regular trail condition updates after rain or storms, check out Palos Forest Preserve--Mountain Bike Trail Conditions on Facebook. Upcoming events at Palos include Chicago Women's Dirt Day, Day 5 on August 6, the 2011 Palos Meltdown mountain bike race on August 14 and CAMBR trail workdays on July 21, August 6 and August 11.

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Sean Laughlin / July 26, 2011 2:03 PM

Was going to hit Palos this last weekend but headed up to Boyne Highlands instead. Quite a drive, but just fantastic singletrack and some nice jumps in the woods. Downhill areas were tough with so much sand. Hoping Palos dries out for a ride some night this week!

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