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Level: Advanced
Length: 10 mi (16.1 km)
Surface: Singletrack
Configuration: Loop
Elevation: +330/ -415 ft
Total: 157 riders

Mountain Biking Saw Wee Kee Park

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#2 of 127 mountain bike trails in Illinois
#171 in the world

1st 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 and go west. Shortly, the trail drops down and forks. Stay right and parallel the road, 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. Take a left and continue on along the Cotton Candy Trail, which follows the Fox River. After the large dip, you'll quickly come to a cleared singletrack trail on your left called Colossus. Here, you'll discover a collection of short climbs and quick drops that are sure to challenge you!

After the second substantial climb, take a right at the Y intersection (a left takes you to a road on private property). The trick to following the trail then comes when you reach the soft beach sand. Keep your eyes open for a trail on your left. Follow it and stay to the left. You'll have to really charge over an eroded lip to ride the Plateau, before dropping back down into the sand again. At this point, you're actually a stone's throw from where you first took a left in the sand. Take a left here and head uphill, riding 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. 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 left (skipping the trail on the right with a quick climb) Follow the trail around to the right and 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 two intersections at the start. Go right at the first one, and take a hard left at the second (you should have a log just ahead of you across the trail). Shortly, the trail will go up a small rise and bend around to the right. You'll see the stump lot off 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. 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 take a 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 you'll have a tough climb ahead, followed by a quick and 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. 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 here 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 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 and 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.

If you want more, you can ride the road to the left and quickly find a trail on the right that parallels the river. This trail, Gnat Catcher (you'll understand if you ride it in the spring), takes you to the first parking lot. Ride thru the lot and get onto the road, keeping the same heading. On your right will be the start of CAMBr Freeway (take either the first entrance with the log-over, or the second one without an obstacle). From here, you can shortly take a right back onto Vortex or Wildcat, continue on to Kentucky Rumbler or the Quarry, or keep going til you get to the fire road. Your destination now is whatever you want to ride again.

Saw Wee Kee Park was 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 built 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 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 any bullets from flying into the park, so 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 to the south 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.

First added by kramwc on Aug 19, 2009. Last updated May 11, 2020. → add an update
Before you go
  • Drinking water: unknown
  • Lift service: unknown
  • Night riding: unknown
  • Pump track: unknown
  • Restrooms: unknown
  • Fat bike grooming: unknown
  • E-bikes allowed: unknown
  • Fee required: unknown
This trail information is user-generated. Help improve this information by suggesting a correction.
Getting there
The park is a couple miles west of downtown Oswego. From Chicago, take I-290 west to I-88. At Rte. 59, go south a few miles to Rte. 34 (Ogden Ave.). 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 for a few more miles until you reach Orchard Rd. Turn right and then take a left before the river onto Budlong Rd. Take another right and follow the river for a 1/2 mile to the park.
Your best bet is to park at the second lot, which gives you a more central location to the trails.
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Rider questions

Q: Yes

Q: Do you allow bmx bikes
A: They do allow them however not really the best place to ride them

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  • the_Chromer

    I have ridden the Palos trails close to 200 times. I have been here maybe 6. This is so different from Palos, it's amazing. Very tight, very technical and keeps you on your toes at all times. What Saw Wee Kee lacks in overall trail quantity, it more than makes up for in fun factor.
    This place is an absolute blast. Bring your A game. Some sections are pretty fast, most are super tight with a bunch of cambered rollers through trees and rocks. Very upper body intensive to go fast, and in many spots, you can get a really good flow going. An hour here is like two hours at Palos. Worth the drive, especially for the change of pace.

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  • OneHitWonder

    A great technical trail system that is a lot of fun to shred as you keep your mtb skills sharp.

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  • triton189

    Very technical trail system, not necessarily difficult. You have to negotiate a lot of short steep hills and quick sharp turns with trees close to the trail. Really enjoyed the system, only rode it once so far but came away liking it. The key for me was keeping momentum up so you didn't have to bail and climb the next hill. I rode a fat bike this time so climbing was more of an issue.

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  • Mamamamarin

    After eating it within 2 minutes and a quick tire pressure change it turned out to be a good time. Tough for a beginner but you get used to the difficulty. Lots of steep descents and inclines. Make sure you have it in a low gear. Was wondering when I first got there why there were so many fat bikes. I soon found out, lots of loose ground and sand. Not good for relatively thin tires with 2.1's. Bring your bug spray and a lot of water and youll be fine. And a map. Definitely bring a map

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  • johnny90

    Good stuff! Several different single tracks...

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  • MitchMoe

    SWK took me by surprise to say the least. Riding Palos mostly and occasionally Western states. Finding Saw Wee Kee was a dream come true. It took me a while from the first time I heard about it and haven't been back to Palos since. It is closer to where I live (by a lot) and it is everything Palos is but just condensed. Actually Palos never inspired me to buy a full suspension bike. Saw Wee Kee did! To be honest it wasn't so much the full suspension that was needed as it was getting into a bigger wheel size, going from a 26'er to a 27.5 with stiffer rims. So grab whatever bike you have and try this place.

    I'd like to thank everyone who works on this trail, obviously caring for something like this takes work and whoever cut the trails did a great job!

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  • Fatbike_Rex

    Awesome trail! Don't let the "advanced" name scare you. Very do-able trail, if you need to dismount on a few climbs or go around a few drops, then so be it. Not very long, but it is a gem hidden out in Oswego.

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  • BenErnst15

    For the Chicago area, I couldn't ask for anything more. Saw Wee Kee makes you feel like you aren't really in Northern Illinois. The trails are roller coaster like with technical aspects along the way. The trail system isn't huge, but features a good deal of diverse runs. It's also a very pretty ride with a lot of little lakes/creeks/rivers.

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  • Scott Waterman

    North half like a big pump track. South half longer more free flowing. Like any trail the more your familiar the funner and easier it is to ride. Arrows for trail signage but no names.

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  • johnnyInBatavia

    We live very close to the trail and visit fairly often. This trail can be very narrow in some spots and very rocky in quite a few others. It's not often that I go and do not take a spill. I've left a lot of skin and blood on this trail. But, with all that said, we've really enjoyed it. Tough but fun. Do not go immediately after a rain as it can get really messy. Give it a few days to dry out a little. Bring your mosquito spray as there is a lot of water around the area. It took us a while to really get the lay of the land because only the main trials are marked well. All-in-all everyone in the area should check it out at least once.

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  • MTBredneckMTB

    This place is great. I bought my first real mtb and had to find a local trail to use my new bike. I went over the bars a couple of times and ate it pretty hard. After one summer of riding here every Sunday I'm ready for more. Don't let the reviews scare you if your a beginner. Just wear a helmet and keep getting up and pedal.

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  • Dantar

    Fantastic trail - best single track I've found in Chicago area by far! Trail markings are a bit confusing. Highly recommend the trails.

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  • Nickwilson30

    Sweetest Technical Singletrack I've ridden in the Mid-West.

    Notes: Conditions were perfect - 60ish and dry. Could have run less tire-pressure for more traction. Probably wouldn't venture there in wet conditions. If I didn't ride with a local I probably wouldn't have had as much fun.* Review edited 10/10/2012

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  • HiFi1981

    One of my favorite trails of all time. This trail is unique. If you lower your air pressure and soften your suspension you can be aggressive and have a blast. The flow is gnarly and a good thrill. Some fast whoops as well next to swamps. The mosquitos will eat you alive if you stop.

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  • konalex

    Sooo much fun. The best i've been to in the chicagoland area. It makes you feel like youre not in the midwest with all of the elevation changes. Lots of loose rock which will get you in trouble if youre not paying attention.

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  • Ron_L

    1st time I rode this place i came home with 3 bloody badges of courage. That was 4 yrs ago. Today I had just as much fun and didn't hit the deck. This place pains me but I will always come back for more! I must do if you want to reach your limits!

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  • stumpyfsr   ✓ supporter

    I will agree with others that this trail is a rollercoaster in your backyard: a tons of fun in a really small area. And I prefer SWK then Palos Hills if to choose between two. Keep momentum, push hard and you'll have a blast. A few descents looks scary at first. A nice place to bike in Chicago area. Havn't found better one yet within 40 miles from Chicago* Review edited 8/2/2011

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  • finerbiner

    The place is a rockin roller coaster. Don't let the reviews about how "technical" it is scare you though. After you get used to letting loose on the downhills you can use momentum to roll back up about 2/3 of each uphill. Technical for Chicago would be a more accurate description. An absolute blast to ride in any case.

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  • rodeopunk_je87

    Very technical! Mostly stony dirt, with loose pebbles in some areas. This single track has a lot of turns with a lot of ups and downs. Best to stay in a low enough gear and be prepared because this trail will catch you by surprise both in climbs and some mildy violent drops with loose rocks. Very narrow, too. My suggestion: Watch your speed and be very alert because drops are usually followed by tight turns with no embankment so you will fall if you're not prepared. You will need to carry your bike up some climbs because they're just way to steep to get traction.* Review edited 8/31/2010

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  • JimmyL18

    Great trail for being so small. Tough steep inclines with short technical downhills

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