While Chicago winters are long and harsh, Chicagoans tend to take every opportunity to enjoy the outdoors when the weather cooperates. A robust network of bicycle trails offers ample opportunity to do just that. Whether one is looking to make a bike ride the featured activity of the day, or simply a more active travel alternative to suffering through city traffic, numerous bike paths are available.
Here’s an overview of some of the most popular trails Chicago offers. Keep in mind, these are just three of the numerous trails that link the greater Chicago area and provide countless opportunity for fitness, fun, and smart commuting.
This 18.5-mile trail is arguably the most popular in the city. It runs along Lake Michigan all the way from South Side to Roger’s Park in the northern end of the city. It is truly a scenic ride throughout, with unobstructed views of the lake to one side, and the magnificent Chicago skyline on the other. The length of this trail will take you past such natural landscapes as wetlands, dunes, beaches, and bird sanctuaries. Those with more of a taste for man-made cultural attractions will appreciate that the trail is also an efficient method of travel to a host of museums, and harbors.
North Branch Trail
This one is truly for nature lovers. A ride on the North Branch Trail offers more than 33 miles of scenic delights. The Chicago Botanic Garden—encompassing 385 acres of remarkable plantings– sits at the northern terminus, and is a perfect spot to begin your ride or end a journey. Wherever one chooses to begin, riders will enjoy the quiet beauty of the north branch of the Chicago River and Skokie Lagoons, miles of forest, and manicured suburban golf courses.
The 606 Trail
At just two years old, the 606 is one of Chicago’s newest trails. The 2.7 mile elevated trail is a repurposed railroad track which connects east and west downtown neighborhoods. It offers a refreshing alternative to mass transit for cyclists, runners and walkers in the Humboldt Park, Wicker Park, Bucktown, and Logan Square neighborhoods. Along the way, the trail passes a number of parks, and includes neighborhood overlooks, as well as an observation deck.