At the Chicago Botanic Garden, climb a waterfall garden, discover hidden rooms inside an English Walled Garden, cross bridges spanning sparkling lakes, explore a Japanese Garden, and discover a garden with trains chugging across bridges and trestles. There’s 385 acres and 27 gardens of wonder to explore in all seasons. Enjoy seasonal festivals, tours by train or on foot, art exhibitions, and lots of ways for families to learn about the wonders of nature.
Admission to the Botanic Gardens is free, but there is a cost for parking, so you can take public transit or access the Botanic Garden via the Forest Preserve trail system. The Botanic Garden connects to Skokie Lagoons immediately to the south and then to the paved North Branch Trail.
The North Branch Trail links together the many forest preserves and green spaces along the North Branch of the Chicago River from the northwest side of Chicago all the way to the Botanic Gardens in Glencoe. While it’s relatively flat, the trail is an excellent place for both walking, hiking, biking, and trail running. A 13-mile stretch of paved trails links together Caldwell Woods with Skookie Lagoons, with additional unpaved natural trails winding through the woodlands and natural areas along the trail. A 4-mile paved trail loops around Skokie Lagoons, connecting the North Branch Trail to the Chicago Botanic Garden.
The round-trip from Caldwell Woods to the Chicago Botanic Garden is a popular route for many long-distance cyclers.
Please note: there are several street crossings as you travel along the trail, but the North Branch Trail is a relatively seamless way to link together a trip with limited interruptions. You will also get a great tour of the forest preserves along the river and natural setting surrounding it.
The North Branch Trail winds along the North Branch of the Chicago River and the Skokie Lagoons, providing access to various picnic groves, forest preserves, and also the Chicago Botanic Garden. The north end of the trail connects to the Green Bay Trail, which continues into the North Suburbs and Lake County. Bike rentals are available at Skokie Lagoons, Harms Woods, Bunker Hill, Caldwell Woods, and the Chicago Botanic Garden. Dogs are welcome on the trail, but please keep them on a leash.