Chicago is a running city. The Chicago Marathon is the second largest marathon in the world. New York is the biggest, once again fueling Chicago’s inferiority complex to New York. Last year’s Chicago Marathon had 40,595 finishers. It’s become so large that a lottery system was set in place and 71,300 runners applied in 2014. If you take a stroll on the lakefront, you’ll find countless runners (much to the serious biker’s dismay). We know you might be thinking,”who runs when they’re on vacation?” The answer is we’re not sure, but more than you would think. This post will be for those that love a nice run even while they’re travelling. We talked to locals, did some research and came up with the best places to run in Chicago.
The Lakefront Trail
This one is the most obvious. The lakefront trail is 18 miles long and spans from the north side of Chicago to the south side. The entire route is one big scenic view of Lake Michigan. If one is brave enough to run the entire route they would see sites like Navy Pier, McCormick Place, Soldier Field, Museum of Science and Industry. You would also come across most of Chicago’s beaches including Foster, Montrose, Fullerton, North Avenue, and Oak St. It’s the best run in Chicago, but not the only one. In the summer months it can get pretty crowded, so it might be a good idea to check out the routes we are going to cover next.
The 606 Trail
We’re a little biased with this one since it’s in our neighborhood. The 606 was built just this past year in June 2015. The trail used to be an old train line called the Bloomington Rail Line. The trail starts from Ashland Avenue in Wicker Park to Ridgeway Avenue. The total length is 2.7 miles, so a nice short run. The trail is on an elevated platform offering nice views of the Bucktown/Wicker Park neighborhood. The trail is lined with plants, flowers, trees etc, so it’s almost like you’re not even in the city. This project has been 10 years in the making and so far has turned out to be a great success.
North Shore Channel Trail
You can make your way almost out of the city completely on this trail. The trail starts on the north side of Chicago at Lawrence and Francisco and ends in Skokie. It’s not one straight shot and you’ll have to make some turns on streets to continue along the trail. People we’ve talked to say it’s nice and it feels like you’re not even in the city anymore. If you feel like taking a little adventure this is the perfect trail. There is an extended version of the North Shore Channel trail that runs a total of 14.5 miles. The trail turns into what is called the Skokie Trail and connects to the Green Bay Trail. The trails will take you all the way to the Botanical Gardens.
This park is perfect for timed runs since it’s a paved circular path that is exactly 1 mile per lap. Horner Park is located on the North Side California Ave. between Montrose Ave. and Irving Park Rd. Go for a short jog around the park and bring a picnic to enjoy in the park afterward.
Let’s venture down to the south side for our next running spot. Jackson Park has a variety of running paths, so the options are endless. The park is right by University of Chicago. It’s easily accessible by the Chicago Lakefront trail. So if you’re feeling like you have a lot energy, you can take our number one running trail suggestion and merge it with this one. The Museum of Science and Industry is located in the park on the north side. Perfect time to kill two birds with one stone. Get some exercise in and while you’re there learn something new.
Lincoln Park Zoo Area
This really isn’t a trail per say, but there is a series of small trails in Lincoln Park that run right through the Zoo. This trail leads right to the Lakefront. On either side of the zoo are big paths for pedestrians. If you head north, the path will take you to Fullerton Ave. and if you take a left will put you right on the lakefront trail where you can continue your run. The zoo is free so you can run right in take a few laps, check out the animals and be on your way.