The Chicago Lakefront Path with the Chicago skyline.
The Lakefront Path as you go past Navy Pier.
The view of Chicago as you pass the Shedd Aquarium.
The Chicago Lakefront Trail (18 miles) runs north and south from Kathy Osterman Beach, at Hollywood Avenue (just north of Lincoln Park), on the north end, through downtown Chicago (at the lakefront), to 71st Street (just past Jackson Park) on the south end.
I have lived in the Chicagoland area almost all of my life and personally, I consider this to be one of Chicago's best attractions. You can walk, jog, roller blade or ride a bike on the path and you have 18 miles of beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline, spectacular Chicago skyline and numerous Chicago parks, beaches, museums, etc. to visit if you choose.
If you are a bike rider and either live near Chicago or if you are visiting Chicago, this is a bike trail that you really should ride. You can ride the entire lakefront trail (36 miles both ways) or just choose your favorite areas, but this bike trail is absolutely breathtaking.
The lakefront path follows the Lake Michigan shoreline and runs alongside Chicago's Lakeshore Drive, on the west side of the path. The northern part of the trail goes through Lincoln Park, the central part of the trail goes through downtown Chicago, at the lakefront (via the North Avenue, Oak Street and Ohio Street beaches), and the near southern part of the trail goes through the Shedd aquarium and past the Field Museum, Soldier Field and McCormick Place (just to name a few of the landmarks).
As I've mentioned above, the Lakefront Trail is an absolutely beautiful and breath taking bike trail (walking, jogging path, etc) but there are a some negative aspects about the trail that I should mention too. For me the biggest negative side of this trail is simply the crowds.
As you might expect, since this is a popular trail through the downtown area of one of the largest cities in the United States, some parts of this trail will get VERY crowded at times (especially on nice weekends). The trail traffic can get pretty heavy with all sorts of people... walkers, runners, family's, roller bladers and of course bikers (of all kinds, from serious to kids to site see ers). The other minor disadvantage, which also has to do with the crowds, is that you may have to deal with parking (if you drive into the city). There are still places where you can park for free but it can be very difficult to find free parking at peak times.
If you can, take the trail at an off time (during the work week, very early in the morning, or on a day that is a little too cold for the wussy riders, etc.) you will be able to enjoy this beautiful trail much more... (unless of course, you like crowds or like to watch the girls on roller blades or something like that...) :-)
There are some great Chicago lakefront trail maps and information online but I normally don't like to put a lot of links to online maps since they seem to change so often (causing broken links) but here is a Chicago Lakefront Trail Map that I have found helpful.
I hope you enjoy the photo tour below. I took a huge number of photos on a beautiful summer day and then went through and trimmed it down to a reasonable number of pictures for the website.
Here's a photo tour of the Chicago Lakefront Bike Path, from August, 2009. I started this ride on the north end of the trail, at Hollywood Avenue (just north of Lincoln Park) and rode south to the end of the trail and back. The photos are in sequence from north to south and the video tour (below) goes from south to north.
The Chicago Lakefront Trail Photo Tour - North to South, August, 2009
This video contains scenes from the entire Chicago Lakefront Path from south of Jackson Park to Lincoln Park on the north. The ride is about 18 miles each way (36 miles total) and the video is from August, 2009.
Bike The Drive
If you are in Chicago on Memorial Day Weekend you will have the opportunity to ride right on Lake Shore Drive with no automotive traffic! The MB Financial Bike the Drive event is held on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend and they close down 30 miles of Chicago's Lake Shore Drive to automotive traffic and open it up for bikes only.
See our 2012 Bike the Drive Ride Report and Photo Tour for more information and photos of this event.
See the Chicago Lakefront Trail Gift Items at Bike Trail Gift Items
These items are sure to start up a conversation with fellow cyclists.
The Ride is the Destination