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Sag Valley Main Trail



8.5 mile 13.6 kilometer loop
99% Runnable


Ascent: 364' 111 m
Descent: -364' -111 m
High: 731' 223 m
Low: 591' 180 m


Avg Grade: 2% (1°)
Max Grade: 15% (9°)


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Trail shared by Matthew Rodriguez

One of the nicest trails in the Chicago Area.

Matthew Rodriguez

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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May 13, 2019
Matt Couse
1h 22m
Apr 13, 2019
John Williams
Dec 9, 2018
Margaret Bridges
Nov 15, 2018
Steve Homner
8.5mi — 1h 36m
Jul 7, 2018
Bob Veierstahler
Apr 29, 2018
Bob Veierstahler
Sag Valley Main Trail (Swallow Cliffs Yellow Loop) 8mi
Apr 21, 2018
Bob Veierstahler
Dec 6, 2017
Steve Homner
trail in great shape 11mi

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 20 votes


  4.4 from 20 votes
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in Illinois


83 Views Last Month
6,414 Since May 20, 2015



Oak trees begin to leaf out in a well-managed oak woodland. With plenty of sunlight, the spring wildflowers are abundant.
May 10, 2017 near Palos Park, IL
The trail passes though a high quality oak savanna. Recent eco-restoration activity = good sight lines and lots of flowers.
Aug 31, 2016 near Palos Park, IL


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