A (legally questionable) BMX park lies well-hidden inside the Skokie Lagoons. A part of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, this area is a valley that was flooded as an FDR project. It was called the Skokie Valley, due to the rapids of the Skokie River running through it. This name came from Chewbab Skokie, which is one of several ways to say “big wet prairie” in the Pottawatomie language.
There are some very dangerous “rides” in this makeshift bike haven, some include jumps over 20 ft. high, narrow ramps built on leaning trees, and there was once a “bike seesaw”, which has since been removed. (What could possibly go wrong?) Not for the novice rider, not only are there lofty challenges, some of the installations don’t repaired in a timely manner and are liable to become unstable after a few hard winters. As elusive as they are challenging, these bike trails are nestled in a very difficult place to find. Like any well kept secret, directions are complicated, questionable and full of local lingo, but go a little like this:
“Heading north on the paved North Branch Trail, there is a decrepit gravel trail that cuts northwest from it and crosses a very small crumbling dam which crosses over to the big island. Follow a zigzag of dirt paths past an abandoned well and an oddly-placed fire hydrant that looks like it has not been used since the 40s. After that you are on your own.”
If you are an avid off-road biker, it would behoove you to try and find this place. Perched precariously at the top of a small, out of place hill and built by and for the daredevils who brave them, it is truly a BMX playground.