Cycling Chicago’s North Lakefront Trail

Chicago’s gem is not the Sears Tower and other skyscrapers or the Magnificent Mile and high-end shopping. Rather, it’s the beauty of nature carefully curated by city planners – the Lakefront Trail that runs along Lake Michigan from the north to the south of the city, with downtown in the middle.

Betty and Chicago's Skyline

Betty and Chicago's Skyline

My old work commute took me south down the trail to downtown. Now that I have a lot of time on my hands, I decided to explore the trail in the opposite direction: north from my neighborhood to the very top. I have ridden this route before, but this time I stopped to sit down at the beaches, smell flowers in the gardens and discover little sanctuaries I’d never known before.  The low 60’s F temperature and blue, sunny skies were perfect for such an expedition.

Betty meditates to Lake Michigan's horizon

Betty meditates to Lake Michigan's horizon

These pictures were taken at the north-most point of the trail.

Me and Betty courtesy of camera's timer

Me and Betty courtesy of camera's timer

Sidewalk Art

Sidewalk Art

Betty and the Light House

To the Lighthouse

Going south from the top of the path, I encountered this Bird and Butterfly Sanctuary. Could anything be sweeter?

Bird and Butterfly Sanctuary

Bird and Butterfly Sanctuary

Stop to smell the wildflowers

Stop to smell the wildflowers

Two little girls chasing butterflies

Two little girls chasing butterflies

There are many facilities for free use by the public, including this baseball diamond, tennis courts, playgrounds, and a golf course.

Public baseball diamond

Public baseball diamond

The Ivy League

The Ivy League

The poignant Peace Garden has a zen feel and a trickling fountain that does not drown out the noise of the passing traffic, but makes a melody with it.

Peace Garden Fountain

Peace Garden Fountain

"May there be peace in Chicago" - Peace Garden

May peace be in Chicago

Enjoying this side of the city reminds me not to let life slip by unexplored.  There’s so much beauty out there.  Chicago is definitely best seen by bicycle, especially the lakefront!

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20 thoughts on “Cycling Chicago’s North Lakefront Trail

  1. Beany says:

    Glad you’re enjoying your time off. When I quit my job as a paralegal, I took time out to ride and enjoy the city. It is one of my most pleasant memories.

  2. Elisa M says:

    wow, how lovely.

  3. Lorenza says:

    Dottie, how beautiful!! Perfect weather for such a wonderful ride! It makes up for this grey sky here ;) L ♥

  4. E A says:

    I definitely need to take the time to explore like you have — since I didn’t even realize such gems like the Peace Garden or the Bird & Butterfly sanctuary are right there at my fingertips!

  5. Doohickie says:

    I’ve never lived in Chicago, but your posts make me feel nostalgic for it.

  6. Those look like such nice places to cycle through! About how long would you say the trail is in total?

  7. RidingPretty says:

    My favorite is the butterfly and bird sanctuary, I wouldn’t want to leave. I’d love to spend the whole day there.

  8. Ernie says:

    Lovely bicycle:

    Here is a link that states 18.5 miles from start to finish. I hope I am not overstepping my bounds.

    http://www.pps.org/great_public_spaces/one?public_place_id=15

  9. chelsea says:

    Oh my goodness! That is the loveliest trail ever!! I love it.

  10. Mark Simpson says:

    The Lake side path is great! When i was in Chicago last week for a conference i had the opportunity to ride on Sunday. I rented a bike from Millenium park and rode from Monroe St. south until i ran out of mile markers (mile 17 is the last marker i think the signs said?)

    The day was so lovely… maybe because the park is so big i was suprised by how few people seemed to be using it. Here in Boston on a nice day the Charles River path is packed.

    Also fun was bombing down the Sledding Hill – maybe i wasn’t supposed to do that – but lots of fun.

  11. Excellent. Almost 19 miles one way on a bike path! I wish we had something like that in Rome… We just get bits and pieces of cyclepath along the tiber…

  12. cyclemaniac says:

    Quote: “Chicago’s gem is not the Sears Tower and other skyscrapers or the Magnificent Mile and high-end shopping. Rather, it’s the beauty of nature carefully curated by city planners ”

    This I believe is true everywhere in this over-exploited world (of ours).

  13. […] Let's Go Ride a Bike has been taking advantage of the beautiful weather in Chicago to ride along the Chicago Lakefront Bike Path. […]

  14. k says:

    That’s my regular route when I ride downtown! (I start at Foster…) It is quite beautiful, especially when one has time to stop and linger. (Still, Powerful Pete, I’d trade my lovely long ride for the ancient streets of Rome in a heartbeat – cobblestones and crazy drivers and all!)

    Glad you’ve had time to explore the north end, Dottie! These are some perfect riding days we’ve been having.

  15. Thanks K. But the history, cobbles and crazy drivers do get old… It would be nice to be in a more cycling friendly city…

  16. Bike Cycling says:

    Yeah i agree with Powerful Pete it would be great to be in a friendly cycling city. By the way its a Lovely sight.

  17. Shanny says:

    I couldnt agree more. I was in Chicago in August. We rented bikes and cycled from Navy Pier south past Grant Park and beyond.

    It is an ideal way to be introduced to the city, and grasp how large it is…

    I recently posted on my blog about the waterfront trail and the DuSable Museum. You can read that here – http://notacyclingblog.com/?p=110

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