Knoch Knolls Park is located next to a multi-use park consisting of tennis courts and ball fields, and bisected by a paved bicycle trail. Along with the paved portion, there are also wide mown-grass trails, doubletracks of dirt and wood chips, along with twisty singletrack through the wooded areas. The park is bounded by the West and East branches of the DuPage River, which adds a nice water feature to the experience.
This past weekend, I went for my first run at Knoch Knolls Park in Naperville, a short drive from home. I’d read about this park for years on the CAMBR website, but had never taken the opportunity to check it out. This weekend, since it was a cutback week for me, I headed over there, hoping to get in an hour’s run on the trails.
“Knoch Knolls Park originally was inhabited by the Potawatomi, and then, after settlement, was purchased by Stephen J. Scott. A plaque on site commemorates the Scott Settlement. In 1934 the Fauth family of Aurora acquired the property. One of the Fauth’s daughters, Irene, married Win Knoch. The Knoch family owned the land until the late 1970s, when they transferred a large portion of the property to the Naperville Park District and generously donated the 13-acre Scott Settlement site to be enjoyed by the community. Knoch Knolls was farmed for many years by Frank Molitor in partnership with the Knochs. Crops included corn, soybeans, vegetables, and at one time, a Victory Garden. Dairy cows grazed in the woods and fields, bordered by an electric fence that the children sometimes dared one another to touch.” (From “The new bicycle bridge at Knoch Knolls Park: connecting past to future”)
I immediately dove into the woods to try out the singletrack. After one of the wettest Aprils on record, there were sections that were very muddy and I attempted to skirt those sections by staying to the side of the trail. Using the wider doubletrack, I ran as far West as I could, and ended up in the confluence of the two river branches, where a canoe or kayak put-in awaits paddlers. Off the mown grass trail headed back there were several singletracks, but many were impassable due to standing water. It will be nice to return to see where those trails go. I spent a few moments on the paved trail, but quickly jumped back on the singletrack, running in reverse my earlier route. An hour’s run was complete, and could have been extended with dry trails and a desire to run farther.
This park is really beautiful – since it was early spring, many of the trees were still leafless, though plenty of new green was apparent, along with some gorgeous blue flowers scattered throughout the park. This is one of the best-designed parks I have seen in a while, with amenities segregated, yet interwoven. The ball fields sit in one corner, while the trails shoot off the main paved path. Several areas are designated for canoeists and kayakers to ply their trade, and multiple connectors make runs, bike rides, or hikes of any length or duration possible. This is a great place for a family to come to explore together and, except for some of the singletrack, a jogging stroller would work on most of the paths.
If you are in the west Chicagoland area and need a trail for running, hiking, or cycling, I recommend this park for shorter excursions. The bike trail extends for quite a few miles from either end of the park, so road cyclists can ride car-free and safely.