Oswego, IL (about 1 hr. SW of Chicago) Trail Description
Palos could be considered the preferred child of the Chicago area trail systems. It gets the most attention and is the one people will most likely talk about. By comparison, Saw Wee Kee is more like the wild child. The terrain is more untamed and throws more at you per mile that its big brother. While the roughly 7 miles of trail might seem small compared to what Palos offers, you'll find that you work a lot harder to cover that distance than you would at Palos.
The reason: Saw Wee Kee Park is teeming with dirt mounds! Once upon a time, the park was a strip mine and piles or rows of mined earth were deposited around the property. That has turned out to be an exceptional gift for mountain bikers—most of the trails course around and over the lumpy and long-since reforested terrain, making for a truly unique riding experience for this area.
Local riders compare the park to an amusement park, and have named many trails after roller coasters: Vertical Velocity, Wildcat, Anaconda, Colossus.... These trails offer short but sometimes steep climbs, lots of low rollers, quick turns, and winding decents. Overall elevation change here is minor, but the frequent climbs over the mounds give your legs a good workout nonetheless.
This is not purely a playground for those with well-developed leg muscles. There are trails for less-experienced riders too, like Cotton Candy and Lolligagger. And all riders can try the roller coasters trails, if they don't mind dismounting from time to time.Getting ThereThe park
is a couple miles west of downtown Oswego. From Chicago, take I-290 west to I-88. You have two options from here.
Option #1 (outside of rush hour or other heavy traffic times): At Rte. 59, go south a few miles to Rte. 34 (Ogden Ave., just past Fox Valley Mall). Turn right and go about 10 minutes until you get beyond a golf course on your left. At the next major intersection, go straight and you will be on Rte. 71. Continue on past the high school for a few more miles until you reach Orchard Rd. Turn right and then take a quick left before the river onto Budlong Rd. Take another right and follow the river for a 1/2 mile to the park.
Option #2 (if traffic on the freeway is less than on Rt. 59): Continue past Rt. 59 til you hit the Orchard Rd exit. Exit and go south for about five miles til you cross the Fox River. Take a right on Budlong Rd immediately after the river. Take another right and follow the river for a 1/2 mile to the park.
There are two lots you can use. The first is at the eastern end of the park and has a grill for cookouts. The second is a little more central to the trails, but can fill up with long horse trailers.More Info
The CAMBR West Chapter is commited to keeping Saw Wee Kee Park open to off-road cycling. The chapter was formed in '06 and has already done a lot of work to re-open miles of overgrown and horse-cenric trail. If you want to help, join us at one of the many trail workdays. All riders are welcome and we pride ourselves on the fact that all trail users benefit from our work!
Check the homepage for trail status, or the trail conditions thread
for more detailed info. If you think the trail conditions need to be updated, go ahead and tell us what you found on your recent outing!Suggested route1st leg
(assuming spring flooding hasn't closed off any trails)
Starting from the second lot, there is a trailhead by the picnic table that quickly takes you to a T intersection. Take a right here, heading southwest on Bobcat. Shortly, the trail drops down and forks. Keep right and parallel the road to stay on Bobcat (you'll bob over some small mounds, hence the name...), passing thru a debris lot (stumps, grass, etc.). A few hundred yards later, you'll need to take a fork on your right that then brings you to a fire road. Cross over and follow the widetrack (Lolligagger) past two houses. A little after that, jump onto a singletrack trail on your left, called Jack Rabbit. This fun trail takes you over low and medium-sized rollers before coming to a Y intersection. Keep left and continue on along Devil's Dip to the widetrack trail called Cotton Candy, which follows the Fox River. After the large dip, you'll quickly come to a cleared singletrack trail on your left—Colossus. Here, you'll discover a collection of short climbs and quick drops that are sure to challenge you!
There's a quick bubble of extra trail on your left after you cross the water (crossing should be dry in the summer), take it if you want some extra excitement. It'll bring you back to the main trail, so you can't go wrong if you take it or not. The trick to following the trail comes when you reach the soft beach sand after the steep decent. Keep your eyes open for an uphill trail on your left. Follow it and keep taking lefts. You'll eventually ride alongside a campground (be careful of the wire fence). The trail ends back at the Fox River, at the west end of Cotton Candy.
We're gonna head back to the central part of the park, so take this trail and you'll return to Jack Rabbit (or ride Colossus backwards and try your luck on the climbs!). Retracing some of your ride in, follow Jack Rabbit to Lolligagger and then Lolligagger back to the fire road. Here, take a right and go a few dozen feet to the next left. If you continue on, you'll see signs pointing out that you are entering private property, so be mindful of where you are.
After taking the left, you'll ride back thru the stump lot. Take a right just after it and follow alongside a steep ridge to your right. This trail is Concession Stand. At the next intersection, go right and then bend left (skipping the trail on the right with a quick climb). Continue on and veer to the right where you'll pass between two high mounds. After this, take a right and you'll be on the Dominator Trail. This trail has a lot of connectors and cut-thru's used by the equestrians, so getting off course can be easy without a guide.
There are several intersections at the start. Go straight at the first one and then right at the next. You'll go over a log and need to take a hard left shortly afterwards). Then, stay right and the trail will go up a small rise and curve around to the right. You'll see the stump lot through the trees to your left. The trail then bends left as you get onto a ridgeline. Here, the trail again gets confusing with intersections and cut-thru's. Take the first left and ride down a chute and up the other side. Follow to the right and go up the steep climb to a high mound. At the top, the trail loops around the mound and comes back to the top, so take a left, shoot down the hillside and climb back up the other side of the high mound to the top. Now get ready for some fun! Take a left and hit the steep drop to a tabletop mound. The trail drops off again after the mound, so if you're not careful you can get air off the tabletop and not be ready for the second, smaller drop. After this, ride back up to the ridgeline and stay left—though if you want to repeat the drops you can go right and do this small loop over. Assuming you went left, you'll weave around some and come to yet another intersection. Go right and you'll find yourself droping down onto Concession Stand again.2nd leg
Retrace your route over Concession Stand for a hundred feet or so. Take two lefts and you're now on Vertical Velocity, one of several ridgeline trails in the park, which is shaped like a lollipop. It bobs you up and down over the rollers before bringing you to two fast decents that earned it its name. Ignore the fork on your left before getting to the steep stuff. After the second drop, you'll come to another intersection. Take the right that goes uphill to Coney Island. Follow it to the left and get ready for a tough climb ahead, then a quick & steep drop to your right. Stay right and follow along the tail end of Boulderdash.
At the T intersection, turn right and then take a left. This gets you onto a short trail called Screamer, which brings you back to the middle of Coney Island. Take a left here and then a right back onto Vertical Velocity. Threading between two trees, you're now at a T intersection (had enough of intersections yet??). Go left and finish the loop of the lollipop, riding a few short, winding decents on the way. For these, just remember to keep your weight back, use more front brake than back brake, and look where you want the bike to go. When you close the loop, go right and retrace your route back to Concession Stand. At that intersection, stay to the right until you see an uphill climb ahead of you. This is actually the first drop you did at the start of the ride. Pick up speed to make the climb and head to the right. You'll shortly be back by the parking lot, so take a break if you need it.3rd leg
If you skip the turn for the parking lot, the trail continues straight on and becomes Wildcat. This is another trail that won't let you get too comfortable in one position for long—it bobs and spins like an untamed beast! To make things more difficult, there are a number of connector trails branching off that will confuse you. Generally, if you stay left you're safe. The trail splits at one point and comes back together, but the stay-left rule will get you through until you are more familiar with the alternatives. The exception is a left that takes you to the first parking lot. When you find yourself dropping down to a road, back up and take the right turn instead.
Now, stay right at the next intersections. Finish the end of Wildcat and the next right turn gets you onto Vortex, a trail with a bubble of extra trail that takes things up a notch. Staying to the right gets you the full force of this trail, then dumps you out at the Quarry, an open area that was once a large open pit. Take a left when you get there and another left onto the CAMBr Freeway. Follow it for a few hundred feet and you'll find a right that takes you to Kentucky Rumbler. The start is deceptively simple, with a fairly straight run. Follow this to the second left (marked by logs over the trail blocking your way forward). After some easy winding thru the woods, this trail throws some challenges at you like on Vortex. Just before things get tough, there's a short by-pass to your left that beginners can us to avoid getting in over their head. If you press straight on, the trail loops around to the left and returns you to the straight section at the start. Go right and return to the CAMBr Freeway.
Here, take a left and go back to the Quarry. Take a right and ride counter-clockwise around the quarry on Boulderdash. The trail angles up before going back into the woods. At the next intersection, where you previously went right to ride Screamer, take a left and try your luck on Anaconda. This is a very fun and very challenging trail, which starts with two quick & steep climbs that you'll have to attack with a purpose. Once you get a sense of its twisting, wriggling, up and down course, you'll appreciate the name. The terminus brings you once again to Concession Stand. Now you've covered most everything the park has to offer. So once on Concession Stand, follow to the right and you'll find yourself back at the parking lot.
If you've made it to this point without getting lost or regretting not riding more often, congratulations! Throw a post on the CAMBR message board and tell us what you thought of your first ride at Saw Wee Kee. Background
Saw Wee Kee Park's 135 acres were once a strip mine, which accounts for the lumpy, rock-strewn terrain. But years of disuse have allowed the forest to reclaim it. During that time, equestrians and possibly some motorcyclists built random trails through the park, though there was no formal group tasked with trail upkeep. It was only recently that mountain bikers were able to put substantial time into clearing out the ever-returning overgrowth and making these trails usable by all trail users.
There is a hunting club that borders the park on the south, which includes a couple shooting ranges, so riders should take care to stay within the park. The ranges have backstops to keep bullets from coming near park visitors. There's no danger to anyone riding the trails, though the noise might make you feel otherwise. You might notice some hunting blinds on their land too, like in the southwest region when you're on Jack Rabbit (which skirts the property line). Hunters know where the boundary is, but should you spot any hunters within the park, be sure to call the cops.