Start: North Park Nature Center, 5801 N. Pulaski
Meet: between 4-6pm Friday evening;Camp night one at North Park Nature Center
Day 2: Ride to and Overnight at Emily Oaks Nature Center in Skokie
Return to North Park Nature Center by 4:30 pm Sunday afternoon
Registration comes with Guided Tour, Campsites, and food for all meals Friday dinner to Sunday lunch.
Bring your tent and camping gear on your bike.
Day 1: 0 Miles | Day 2: 25ish miles | Day 3: 25ish miles
Ridership Level: Easy
All Are Welcome
Is it possible to bike camp in Chicago? This new tour specifically designed for families aims to answer that question with an emphatic “YES”. This area of the Northwest side of Chicago and adjacent suburbs have seen significant improvements in cycling infrastructure, including miles of brand new bike paths, extensions to existing paths, at least 4 new bridges, lots of additional bike infrastructure, restored habitat and a plethora of cycling amenities, making our first ever bike camping tour in the city more than just possible.
We’ll ride on quiet paths within Chicago proper that feel more like the woods of Northern Wisconsin than the 3rd largest city in the US. We can’t wait to show you everything we have in store. We’ll explore beautiful trails, including the Sauganash Bike Path, North Branch Trail Extension, North Channel path, McCormick Sculpture Path. We’ll visit beautiful beaches and pools, ride along the Chicago River and Lake Michigan shore line, and even tour a stunningly beautiful and historic cemetery. Families, you don’t want to miss this one.
Out Our Front Door provides the food and the meals are prepared by the guides with some helping hands welcome at times. Campsite features a fire pit with cooking grate, picnic tables, full-service bathrooms with showers, dining pavilions with electrical outlets for device charging, and camp store with concessions.
Two Night/Three Day Tent Campsite Reservation
Meals (Friday Dinner to Sunday Lunch)
Interpretative Trail Guides/Ride Leaders
Campfire & Camp Snacks
WHAT TO BRING
Your kid(s), bike, tent, sleeping bags, and gear
Friday lunch, water, kid-friendly snacks, and adult energy snacks
Bike lock, spare inner tubes, bike lights, & helmets
Personal Items and changes of clothes
WHY JOIN US?
If you love biking and camping but aren’t sure how to combine the two, we offer a supportive communal experience with accessible bike camping rides designed by fellow parents. Our goal is to help you and your kids go from riding in the neighborhood to riding in nature; we provide the organization, logistics, ride support, food, and community of family cyclists to make your first bike camping adventure fun, worry-free, and successful.
WHO SHOULD COME?
This ride is designated as EASY. That means it’s suitable for first-time bike campers or beginners and open to all. This is our most accessible and low-stress route departing from downtown Chicago.
This is a family ride; you should come if your are a parent/guardian with minor child(ren) who will accompany you. If you have a bike in good working order that can carry your kids and gear, can ride for twenty miles or more at a time, are up for a communal family adventure, and possess a positive attitude, then you can complete this ride.
WHAT ABOUT MY KIDS?
Bring them! For this ride, we divide children into three different categories:
Full-time Passengers are children who ride on their parents’ bicycles for the entirety of the route. We’ve had kids as young as 9 months and as old as 9 years be full-time passengers. You’ll want a bike seat, trailer, or cargo bike to carry these kids.
Little Kid Riders are part-time passengers on their parents’ bikes and part-time riders of their own bikes. There is a designated 4.5-mile Little Kid Rider Segment designed to let them ride on the safest easiest section. Little Kid Riders are usually age five to eight, typically riding bikes with wheels up to 20”, who can keep a pace of at least 5-6 mph for up to five miles (think Kidical Mass). When not riding the 4.5 mile Little Kid Rider Segment, these children and their bikes are carried by their parents. You’ll want a tow hitch and/or cargo bike to carry these kids and their bikes.
Big Kid Riders are full-time riders who plan to ride the whole 24 miles. They are usually age 8 or older, ride a bike with 20” tires or bigger, have previous experience doing 20+ mile rides, and can keep a pace of 10-12 mph (think Critical Mass). Prior long ride (20+ mile) experience is required for Big Kid Riders. (Join us on a Family Day Ride to get your Big Kid Rider in shape!)
THIS IS BIKE CAMPING
Bike camping offers a total sensory experience, where the journey is as important as the destination. It’s like backpacking by bike; you carry your camping gear and kid(s) with you on your bicycle. With this adventure, we offer families - beginners and experts alike - an opportunity to experience bike camping beyond the city.
ABOUT THE GUIDES
Family rides usually have a 1:5 guide to participant ratio to ensure a safe and smooth experience. Guides will have a bike tool kit, an air pump, a presta/schrader valve adapter, tire lever, chain breaker, and a crescent wrench (for those older bikes), a multi-toolkit, lights, and an emergency packet. Our guides will help you with any needed repairs. *If you have any of the above items please bring them along at your own convenience.
Our guides work with historians, biologists, forest rangers, and leading people in their fields to deliver a one-of-a-kind story to remember. They have setup multiple break points along the way in all the right places to ensure you and your kids can go the distance. If this is your first time out on a long ride, you’ll be surprised by how far you and your children can actually go.
“What an AMAZING weekend!!! Thank you all for always stepping up to help, even when I didn’t ask for it. I couldn’t have gotten through the trip without every one of you - and your fabulous kiddos! It was great to meet other active, adventurous families. Thanks for making our first family bike camping trip absolutely PERFECT!!!”
“I loved that I really thought I was not going to be able to do it when there where like 10 miles to get to the campsite and I did it. I loved the feeling of being part of a community where everyone took care of each other.”
“It was our kids' first time camping and they were so excited about sleeping in a tent! The ride/hike to the beach on Saturday was super fun too. I loved the way everyone looked out for each other and worked together."
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How much are tickets?
Adult tickets are $65.
Child tickets are $45.
What’s included in the registration?
Tickets include a two-night group tent campsite rental, ride marshals, food for all meals from Friday dinner to Sunday lunch, guided activities, trip planning, firewood, and s’mores.
Participants bring their own tents, sleeping bags, clothing, and other gear.
Tell me more about food.
OOFD purchase food and prepare meals communally Friday dinner through Sunday lunch.
How do I get to the start point if I don’t live nearby?
You can drive for street parking. There are trains not too far from the start point. But really, you should ride your bike if you can!
Do I need to bring my own tent and sleeping gear?
Yes! Check out a sample packing list here . If you already own camping equipment, you can use what you have. However, if you’re looking to invest, buy gear intended for backpacking; it’s lighter and more packable than car camping equipment.
Do you transport the tent and camping gear to the destination?
No. There is no SAG vehicle. Participants transport themselves, their kids, plus tent and gear to the campsite on their bike. That’s what makes it bike camping! Please pack lightly and find a way to load your bike with your family’s essentials.
What happens if it rains, is the event canceled?
No. We will make every effort to put the event on and would only cancel in the event of biblical extreme weather or the zombie apocalypse (in which case, we’d all be furiously peddling with the other bike-powered preppers anyway). We strongly suggest you bring rain gear (especially for the kids as they get much colder faster when not pedaling) and if it looks like rain, garbage bags double wrapped over your gear with some tape where necessary can good-enough waterproof almost anything.
If you would like to rent a cargo bike suitable for hauling kids and gear on one of our rides, please contact Four Star Family Cyclery . The owner, Elsbeth Cool, is a veteran family bike campout participant and can talk you through what might work best for your needs.
What kind of bike do I need?
Cargo bikes, especially longtails, are perfect for bike camping. However, whatever you already have will likely work. Can your bike comfortably haul you, your stuff, and your kid(s) if they don’t ride yet? Bring it! Check the event description for more information on the route and terrain.
See some photos and videos here from our past trips for examples and inspiration on what other family bike campers ride. Your solution could be as simple as adding a new-to-you trailer to your regular bike to haul your kid(s) and gear.
Past participants have done family bike campouts on bakfietsen, longtails, midtails, adult bikes with trailers, recumbent tricycles, and all sorts of standard adult bikes.
What happens if my bike breaks?
We’re family and we’re cyclists and we are here to help. We will have dedicated ride marshals in the group who will make simple repairs and help you out in any type of breakdown in order to get you rolling again.
This is front country camping, which means we’re never that far from a bike shop if things get serious.
What happens if I’m too slow or the kids get too tired to complete the trip?
We aim for no rider left behind! If you can keep pedaling and have a positive attitude, we won't leave you. We will lash kid bikes on a cargo bike, squeeze children on/into another cargo bike, rotate a pair of fresh kid legs on their bike while they catch a ride, take breaks, etc. Plus, we ride slowly, usually 8-12 mph. Most routes feature a designated kid-friendly section where the little peddlers can safely ride.
If you just can't complete the ride, bug out options include Metra, CTA, rideshare and phone a friend, depending on location.
Are there other family rides or groups for family biking?
Yes! For 2021, there are four family bike campouts: Shabbona Woods, Camp Sullivan , Pratt's Wayne Woods, and Bike Camping in the City (N. Park Nature Center and Emily Oaks in Skokie).
Shorter neighborhood rides are organized by Chicago Family Biking and take place in a dozen Chicago neighborhoods and suburbs. They all feature kid-friendly routes - usually 2-4 miles total - and often have fun themes and destinations.
The Chicago Family Biking Community is a wonderful resource to talk all things bikes, kids, routes, and gear with fellow Chicagoland parents.
How fun is it riding with your family?
Adventures create memories that last a lifetime so be prepared to have some fun and bring your swimwear. Even if we’re not going to the beach, there’s likely a pool along the way.
What's the start point?
Buckingham Fountain in downtown Chicago (301 S Columbus Dr, Chicago, IL 60605). Restrooms and water are available by the Fountain.
Individual/Participant Cancellations: No Refunds. No Transfers . | We are a small organization and due to the small group size of our rides, a ticket cancellation/no show has a real impact into the planning of the tour and as such, we cannot provide any refunds for a participant cancellation. By registering you acknowledge and agree there will not be a refund if you cancel or do not show up for the event. Tickets are non-transferable and can not be resold. Please contact the ride organizer if you are no longer able to attend.
Organizer Cancellation: Full Refund. | Nobody wants an event to be canceled. But in the very rare case, the organizer does cancel the event at their discretion due to unforeseen circumstances, then registered participants will receive a full refund. To date, this organizer has never canceled an event.
Weather and Rain: We do not cancel an event for rain or a storm. | We ride rain or shine. Understand that Chicago weather is typically passing, if it gets intense we will wait it out in a provided shelter then continue biking. FYI-Some of the best views and greenery are after a rainstorm.
Inclusivity and Non-Discrimination Statement (included in the Waiver)
We at Out Our Front Door believe in the radical inclusion of all people on our bike camping trips. Regardless of your race, gender identity, sexual orientation, economic status, or even the types of bikes you ride, we want you rollin’ with us. We want everyone to feel welcome except those that make others feel unwelcome. As a participant of an Out Our Front Door event, you are inherently agreeing to ride and let ride.
If you exhibit any micro-aggression observed by leaders such as being judgmental of another’s bike, touring experience/skill, mansplaining, or generally being unfriendly you will be politely yet firmly corrected by OOFD leaders. If you commit any serious offense such as repeated unwanted flirtation, sexual harassment, overt racism, etc., you will be asked to leave the tour without refund and will no longer be welcome on future rides.
If you feel you are a victim of any of the above or have observed it, please raise the issue to one of the leaders and they will handle the issue accordingly and with appropriate discretion.
We have this policy in place because we want everyone to feel safe and welcome on tour. Out Our Front Door is an open community of bike campers, and we will forever work to bring all sorts of folks into the fold. Thank you for being a positive contributor to that community.
We're the Out Our Front Door Organization, a Bike Camping Community For Chicago and The Lower Lake Michigan Basin. Learn more about the people behind these all-volunteer adventures here . Want to help? Fill out this form , meet us at one of our monthly hangouts , and join us on a bike overnight.
We provide exploratory adventures by immersing and educating in the history, architecture and the uniquely beautiful natural habitats of the Lower Lake Michigan Basin Area, including Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan.
Drop us a friendly visit at www.oofd.org
Event Venue & Nearby Stays
Chicago, Illinois, United States
USD 45 to USD 65