The Run Down

A few weeks back we took our bikes up the North branch trail to the Skokie Lagoons. We're running it back with another bike ride guide, but this time we're headed South -- way South, all the way to Indiana type of South. We take the Lakefront trail as far as we can go, and then link up with some side streets and other trails to get us to Three Floyds Brewery.  Here are the highlights.

1. Start @ Jackson and Lakeshore

2. Take a Break @ Calumet Park

3. Bike @ Wolf Lake

4. Beers and Cheese @ 3 Floyds Brewery

5. Donuts @ Munster Donuts

1. Starting Point (Jackson and Lakeshore)

Riding your bike North on the Lake Front trail can be an exercise in patience with so many runners, walkers, and bikers clogging up the lane. Going South bound is the way to go, and we’re starting our ride at Jackson and Lakeshore. The route is a mix of trails and side streets. Here is a general idea of the route and other general logistics tips

– From here, it’s close to 30 miles (one-way) to our final destination.  According to Google Maps, it’s about a 2.5 hour bike ride. For us, with stops along the way, it took us closer to 3.5 hours.

– Here are the various trails you’ll be going on: The Lakefront trail; Burnham Greenway Trail, Illiana Trail, Monon trail.

– You’ll be on some side streets between trails so you’re best bet is to have your phone on you and Google Maps opened as you make your ride.The pic below is of a steep hill right off the bike path near Soldier Field.  It seems like a prime place to keep in mind for some sledding during the Winter. After you pass the McCormick center on the bike path, you’ll run into these types of views of the skyline. It’s hard to beat these views.

2. Calumet Park (Break Time)

The mid-point of the ride is close to Calumet Park, so that’s as good of time as ever to take a break. This is right in the middle of an industrial corridor so the park sticks out from the rest of the area. It was also surprisingly busy on a Saturday afternoon with scores of people out enjoying the water and playing soccer.

The big crowds also brings vendors selling snow cones and other Mexican snacks like elotes (corn) and chicharrones (fried pork rinds).

After leaving Calumet Park, you’ll take the Burnham Greenway trail for a few miles until you get to Indiana.

3. Wolf Lake

Once you hit Wolf Lake, you’ll officially be in Indiana. The trail going through Wolf Lake is called the Illiana Trails, and at this point, you’ll basically be riding by yourself. There’s not a lot of other bike traffic and it’s pretty much smooth sailing from here.

There’s an elevated boardwalk that cuts through Wolf Lake that seemed like a prime fishing spot. We spotted a couple of anglers along this trail.

4. Three Floyds Brewery

After the Illiana trail, you’ll hook up with the last leg of your journey on the Monon trail. This trail will take you almost the rest of the way there.  The very last mile before getting to the Three Floyds Brewery are on side streets.

After a long journey, you’re probably tired, hungry, and thirsty. You’ll be riding you bike down a quiet city street, and as you make your final turn, just around the corner you’ll see a massive brewery. Next to the brewery is the Three Floyds Brewpub, and that’s our next stop.

Not only are we here for a nice cold beer, but this place has an upscale kitchen that would rival a lot of restaurants in Chicago. We’re talking about things like cheese curds with kimchi aoli, toast with roasted bone marrow, and confit duck dumplings. Not something you’d expect out of a brewpub in Indiana, but definitely a fine way to treat yourself after a long bike ride.

What a coincidence, all three of those menu items are pictured below.  

5. Munster Donut

The last stop before we head home is Munster Donut. After a heavy meal, a sweet snack might be in the cards. About a mile up the road from Three Floyds is a local donut shop that will do the trick. This place is open 24/7 and has an old school diner vibe going for it.

We sat down to a 1/2 dozen donuts for $5 and chatted with locals who swore by this place. There’s another 30 miles to go on the ride back to Chicago, so a cup of black coffee might pair nicely with your donuts.

Our two favorite donuts by far were the honey dip (bottom right) and the sour creme (bottom left). The sour creme is sort of like a more dense and not as sweet funnel cake. This place is “I’d go out of my way to get donuts from here” type good.