The Best Bike Trails in the Chicago Area

The Best Bike Trails in the Chicago Area

Chicago, the Windy City, the Second City, the City of Big Shoulders—however you know this great American city, you should know that it’s a city of transportation, perhaps more than any other city in America. Famously, there’s that network of elevated railways, subways, and rapid-transit expressway medians we simply call the L. The Kennedy and Dan Ryan Expressways form one of the widest, busiest, and most complex limited-access highways in North America. And that’s just for getting around town—America’s thousands of miles of railroad converge upon Chicago, making it the largest freight hub in the nation and one of the largest in the world.

Let’s not forget about bicycles. The commitment to transportation in the Chicago region extends to a huge network of trails for devoted riders. We’ve picked a few of the best bike trails in the Chicago area, nearly spanning from state line to state line.

Lakefront Trail

From 5800 North to 7100 South on the great grid of Chicago runs the Lakefront Trail, which provides spectacular views of Lake Michigan as you ride—we won’t blame you if you get the classic song “Lake Shore Drive” stuck in your head. As any Chicagoan will tell you, it’s always cooler by the lake, and when “the Hawk”—a particularly cold breeze—flies in, you’ll need more than a light jacket. You may even want a pedal-assisted bicycle to help if you get caught in the wind’s teeth.

Green Bay Trail

At one time, the electrified North Shore Line connected Chicago to its little brother up the lakeshore, Milwaukee, stopping along the way at the leafy suburbs of the North Shore and the industrial towns of Waukegan, Kenosha, and Racine. As automobiles and the competing Chicago & North Western commuter line ran the old North Shore Line out of business, the decommissioned interurban right-of-way became one of Chicagoland’s finest bike trails. The Green Bay Trail allows you to retrace the North Shore Line from behind your handlebars, winding though Chicagoland’s scenic North Shore and stopping at its crown jewel: Ravinia, summer residence of the venerable Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

The 606

Another, more recent instance of rails-to-trails conversion runs not through idyllic lakeside suburbia but above the city itself. Named for the first three numbers of every Chicago ZIP code, the 606 has converted disused freight trackage into elevated parklands and bike trails, with the former Bloomingdale Line in particular giving Land of Lincoln cyclists an amazing view of the city below.

Des Plaines River Trail

Both the river and its adjacent suburb are classic Chicago shibboleths: say it “right,” which is to say it wrong, and people will know you’re from out of town. Part of the mighty Mississippi-Missouri system, the bank of the Des Plaines (pronounced “d’splanes” locally) River features one of the best bike trails in the Chicago area, running through forest preserves that have held Chicagoland’s suburban sprawl at bay. The trail begins just outside Oak Park and continues north to the Wisconsin border, where ambitious cyclists can really appreciate the great outdoors.

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Sue

Sue Baxter

Susie Young Baxter, CEO, has published PanoramaNOW Magazine for 31 years. Her hobbies are Camping, Boating, Hiking, Nature, Gardening and Outdoor Activities. She is an Artist, Graphic Designer, an Avid Seamstress, Dabbles in Homemade Crafts and Landscaping. Since her Father was a Health Teacher, she also likes homeopathic Health Solutions. Since blogging started over 10 years ago, PanoramaNow has been added to Newsbreak – a national news affiliate.

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About The Author

Sue Baxter

Susie Young Baxter, CEO, has published PanoramaNOW Magazine for 31 years. Her hobbies are Camping, Boating, Hiking, Nature, Gardening and Outdoor Activities. She is an Artist, Graphic Designer, an Avid Seamstress, Dabbles in Homemade Crafts and Landscaping. Since her Father was a Health Teacher, she also likes homeopathic Health Solutions. Since blogging started over 10 years ago, PanoramaNow has been added to Newsbreak - a national news affiliate.