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Sag Valley Main Trail

 4.3 (15)
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8.5 Miles 13.6 Kilometers

364' 111 m


-364' -111 m



Avg Grade (1°)


Max Grade (9°)

731' 223 m


591' 180 m


Shared By Matthew Rodriguez


Minor Issues 37 days ago
Mostly frozen, but snow free. Some branches down on side trails History

Getting forecast...

One of the nicest trails in the Chicago Area.

Matthew Rodriguez

Dogs Leashed

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Spring · Views · Wildflowers


This trail features mostly small rolling hills with a few bigger hills on the east end.

Need to Know

Around Mile 4, Swallow Cliffs - North has a pair of stairs, a large sledding hill, and restrooms with flush toilets. Many people climb these stairs for fitness. The sledding hill is a recent conversion from a pair of toboggan runs that was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1930


The trail is a well marked, mixed-use, packed dirt trail. Equestrians and cyclists also use this trail on a regular basis, so keep proper trail etiquette in mind when visiting this area.  Follow the yellow blazes to keep on this loop. The rolling hills of this trail creates a terrain varied elevation that is found in few places in northeast Illinois.

The logged trail begins at the Swallow Cliffs - South forest preserve. It begins near the Brown Trail, but this loop follows the yellow blazes for its remainder. The trail crosses several creeks via bridges. Smaller streets are crossed, but for US-45/Lagrange Road, the trail passes through an underpass. After periods of substantial rain, there may be standing water in these underpasses.

In warmer months, proper precautions should be taken for mosquitoes and ticks. Poison ivy is found just off the trails.

History & Background

The Palos and Sag Valley preserves, in Southwest Cook County, comprise the largest and most diversified holding for the Cook County Forest Preserve. Mostly hilly and forested, they are notable for scenic beauty and rich in history back to glacial and geologic times. Masses of hawthorns and crabapples bloom in spring; the woodlands provide colorful autumn foliage. There are fine upland meadows; many lakes, ponds, and sloughs; a great variety and abundance of wildlife and the best fishing waters in Cook County.


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Your Check-Ins


Dec 29, 2018
Marisa Fujinaka
My dog and I did few laps around the stairs to warm up. It was a nice way to spend the morning! 8.5mi
Sep 2, 2018
Kat Tapiero
Jul 29, 2018
Casey R
Jun 24, 2018
Christine Sampson
May 5, 2018
Michael Zorko
Apr 13, 2018
Michelle Goldberg
8mi — 2h 00m
Mar 18, 2018
Julie Bulfer
Muddy 8mi
Jan 7, 2018
Sallie Stiens

Trail Ratings

  4.3 from 15 votes


  4.3 from 15 votes
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in Illinois


98 Views Last Month
4,980 Since May 20, 2015
Easy/Intermediate Easy/Intermediate

Dan Scholl
Chicago, IL
Dan Scholl   Chicago, IL
Is there a path in the middle of the loop that’d let you cut this hike in half? Trying to increase my puppy’s endurance gently! Nov 22, 2018
Yes. There are two other trails that you can use to shorten this hike. 1.) There is the Tan Spur near the middle of the trail. On the map, it looks like it is a dead end, but it leads to the old Swallow Cliff toboggan hill. It's still used as a sledding hill and it has two sets of stairs to go up or down. 2.) The other option is the Purple Connector Trail in McClaughry Springs Woods, which is just east of IL-45. The connector trail is a gradual hill which may be easier for some to talk up rather than the 100 or so steps at the sledding hill. Nov 22, 2018

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