Fox River Trail from Dundee to Crystal Lake - finished yet?

I was on the trail last year when I encountered construction around Algonquin and then north of that, a river had washed out a bridge (that you could easily walk through except the person Im riding with next won't portage im sure) and the trail was closed shortly after that section. Its one of the prettiest parts of the trail but havent been out there yet this year. Anyone have any updates for that section? Can I take it all the way to Crystal Lake w/o getting feet wet? Thanks!

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There are no closures, but still a detour at bike trail and new road construction.

He's right, there is a slight detour that is poorly marked where they are doing work on route 31.  You should be able to cross the intersection and go up the hill, take the first right and the construction crews were kind enough to lay a couple of inches of gravel to be a trail. 

I'm curious how crossing 31 is going to be like once the new bridge that goes over Algonquin is finished!  Hopefully it won't be too messy.

Richard Stiers said:

There are no closures, but still a detour at bike trail and new road construction.

Yes, there _were_ trail closures over the winter north of the Meyer Rd trailhead. They replaced one or more of the bridges on the trail - apparently to support the weight of maintenance and emergency vehicles - but that work was completed sometime back in April, after a couple of reschedules due to weather. I don't think there was an actual washout - the signs for the project went up before the trail was closed - but then again, I've been wrong before.

I've been riding it a couple times a week for the past few months.

Ignore the posted detour. It sucks. It's dangerous. And auto traffic is NOT looking for bikes crossing Main street ("old" Route 31) in downtown Algonquin. There are NO road signs warning of the presence of additional bike traffic. That said, this is an active and constantly changing construction zone. Use the information below at your own risk, and be prepared for things to be different from what I describe today.

If heading north from Carpentersville, follow the trail to Route 31/Huntington/Main Street, there's a side cut to the gas station. (Ignore the posted detour that has you S-turn down the ADA ramp to the right. It can be done without dismounting, with difficulty, but I pity anyone towing a Burley and trying to do the "right" thing.) From the gas station lot, take a minute and study the traffic barricades. They have been shifting from time to time and as the project approaches completion between now and September they'll be shifting a lot more. With the traffic signals inoperative as they are at present, this crossing is at a corner with moving traffic that mostly isn't going to stop. The visibility, however, is much better than at the detour crossing, and the traffic barricades allow you to get into the intersection with some protection.

At this writing, the orange barrels form a safe island in the middle of the intersection. From the gas station side, watch for the northbound traffic from the left, and cross to the island. Then move to the right so that you have a clear view around the corner of the southbound traffic coming from your right on Main Street. From there you can cross to the new Rt 31. (NOTE: at one point local traffic was being allowed up Huntington. The open lane went through traffic barrels, and it was difficult to visually distinguish from the barricaded area. Don't stop there thinking you're safe unless it's very obvious that a car can't squeeze through!) (According to the MCCD, the portion of the trail in the construction zone is under control of the Illinois DOT, who made the determination that loose crushed granite on a steep slope was suitable as a bike trail. I disagree! :) After I complained, I noticed that they recompacted the gravel at the trail entrance within a couple of days, but it still wasn't great.)

Based on the example of some fellow trail users I have seen recently, if you are riding the trail with small children and they can't precisely follow your instruction while maintaining awareness of traffic, well... it's your responsibility, not mine. This is still at best a compromise. (Sorry to sound like a lawyer, but I've had a few trips interrupted this month by large family groups who stopped at bends spread across the whole trail with no room to pass. Please, folks, train your kids to live to adulthood.)

What I have been doing is to skip the gravel end of the trail, and ride up the left side of the new pavement. The snow fencing between the trail and the new road has been knocked down in a few points, and right before the road swings north there are a couple of spots where someone has piled dirt to form a ramp from the trail to the new road. (I personally dismount and walk down to the trail. Someone with decent trail riding skills and equipment can ride it.)

From there, there's a bit of loose gravel and water runoff from up the hill, but you hit asphalt fairly soon. The 40-foot sand pit is gone. (I'm not kidding - a chunk of pavement was torn out and for a week or two there was a stretch of loose sand before it was repaved. It was exciting!)

You can also see the grading for the new trail crossing in place. The new Route 31 has two bridges - the first over the creek, the second over Algonquin Road. The trail is going to loop back and down to cross under Rt 31 with the creek, then continue to the Rt 31/Huntington/Main intersection on the east side of the new road.

Traveling south from Crystal Lake the procedure is pretty much the reverse, but it's much easier to spot the areas to step up from trail to road.

Note that in the past week there has been an increase in construction vehicle traffic on that stretch of road. Keep well to the side, for safety and also lest they force us all to ride downhill on loose gravel.

When complete, then, the crossing of Main Street will be okay - it will be at the light, and the bulk of the traffic will be using the bypass so the light timing will favor crossing. The bridge over Main that my wife and I were hoping for, however, will not materialize. I am attaching a diagram of the crossing that the McHenry County Conservation District sent me, with the trail crossing at Main Street marked in red.

No idea whether they're going to re-mark the mileposts to compensate for the additional quarter mile being inserted into the trail at that point.



I rode this stretch over the weekend.

It appears the construction is nearly complete - in fact the new road may be open in mid-August, ahead of schedule.

Consequently, there are _more_ construction vehicles on the stretch of new pavement I advised using, and they are moving faster.

The two "earth ramps" from the trail up to the pavement, near the last light pole before the road turns north, are quite soft, and not usable on narrow tires, and after Monday's rain it's likely worse. A mountain bike might have no problem, I can't comment.

The curbs are poured for the pedestrian/bike crossings of Main Street/Rt 31. It's going to be lovely.

All in all, though, with the recent changes I no longer recommend choosing the new road surface over the posted trail detour. I won't be using it anymore, even if I have to walk the gravel stretch.

The gravel bed for the new trail crossing under the road is laid and compacted. As of Saturday it was not paved, but they've got to be getting close. I just hope the landscaping isn't allowed to grow as high and close to the trail as it does at the Rakow Road crossing in Lake in the Hills. Without clear sight lines, this will be challenging...

Final followup from me - the Rt 31 bypass around downtown Algonguin and the re-routed trail are now open. I haven't used the trail yet, but from a couple transits of the area by car I can tell you that automotive traffic where the trail crosses Main Street (old Rt 31) is dramatically reduced.
Thanks everyone, in particular Jonathan Quist, for your updates. I think I might go again this week. Happy cycling!

ReNae and Jonathan, I rode through here a few weeks ago and the new path is brilliant.  If you are coming from the south, you will make a short right and notice the trail on the NW part of the intersection.  The new path is a joy to ride on!  This will take you under the bridge and then sidewind up the hill (hope you bring low gears, if there are a lot of cyclists you will need them).  After the hill you will be back on the old trail.  You might see me on there in my new jersey!

I rode the bypass this past Saturday. It looked like there was still some landscaping that needed to be done but the trail was open. However the Fox River Trail was closed in several locations north and south of Elgin due to downed trees and power lines from last Friday's big storm. Not sure how long it will take for them to clear the trail so be prepared to detour if need be. 

Yep was on the Fox Trail yesterday. South Elgin had some trees down and the 2008 detour is still in place and a lot worse!
Some of the bridge use to be their. Now it is totally gone!
Had to duck to get under the one tree. 
But I love that area cause it is a roller coaster ;)


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