(CBS) — After years of planning and more than five months of construction, a link has been established between two of the Chicago area’s most heavily used bicycling and hiking trails.

The one-mile link through the Chicago Botanic Garden and the Cook County Forest Preserve District’s Turnbull Woods saw immediate and heavy use.

Riders have been trying to use it for weeks, even though it was not completed until the past couple of days.

Chicago Botanic Garden Vice President Harriett Resnick said the path also makes free access to the Botanic Garden easier than ever. The Botanic Garden does not charge admission, but does charge autos to park.

The $2 million project was funded jointly by the Botanic Garden, the Forest Preserve District and the Illinois Department of Transportation.

The path is 10 feet wide and paved with asphalt, much of it repurposed aggregates and shingles. Because of its location, going through the Botanic Gardens, Rresnick said those who use the path can expected to see interpretive signs describing the woodland, wetland and moraine regions of the Botanic Garden’s landscape.

With the new link, continuous bicycle paths are possible for riders from Devon Avenue and Caldwell Road on Chicago’s northwest side to the Cook-Lake County line on the North Branch Trail, and through Lake County to the north and Wilmette on the south using the Green Bay Trail.

Access in all directions will be possible only during the Botanic Garden’s regular hours, 8 a.m. until sunset daily.  No pets, rollerblading or skateboards are allowed on the new path.