If you haven't been to the Lakefront Trail in Chicago, you're missing a lot of natural beauty (all FREE for everyone to enjoy), efficient transportation to Chicago's neighborhoods, and a great opportunity to get in a workout. Here's why we love the Chicago Lakefront Trail, and some things you might not have known about it.
1. The Lakefront Trail Spans Much of Chicago
Chicago’s Lakefront Trail stretches 18.5 miles, connecting the North Side to the South Side. The trail starts at 5800 N. Sheridan Road/Ardmore Street, and continues to 7100 S. South Shore Drive/71st Street — see map here. With views of Lake Michigan on one side, parks and greens on the other, and glimpses of the Chicago skyline at some areas, the Lakefront Trail is a favorite for runners and bikers alike. Why even bother with the treadmill?
2. Aaron Montgomery Ward Protected Chicago's Natural Beauty from Development
If you enjoy the tranquility of the Lakefront Trail, you can thank Aaron Montgomery Ward and his campaign to maintain the park. Ward was a man who amassed his fortune through a mail-order business, and who sued anyone who tried to build property on the lakefront. He took Daniel Burnham’s original Plan for Chicago to heart.
This plan stated that the lakefront was “public ground” and had to “remain forever open, clear and free of any building or other obstruction.” Finally in 1909, the Supreme Court of Illinois backed Ward, and the lakefront has remained public to this day!
3. The Lakefront Trail Brings Visitors to 4 Beautiful Chicago Parks
If you make your way down the whole Lakefront Trail, you will pass four expansive parks: Lincoln Park, Grant Park, Burnham Park and Jackson Park. Ward also helped in developing Grant Park, and other lakefront properties. En route are many free Chicago beaches, and park attractions like public art installations, boat harbors and nature preserves.
4. The Lakefront Trail Passes through 13 Neighborhoods
Beside visiting parks, those taking advantage of the Lakefront Trail can also pass through at least thirteen lakefront neighborhoods: Edgewater, Uptown, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Old Town, Gold Coast, Streeterville, Loop, South Loop, Bronzeville, Kenwood, Hyde Park and South Shore. With traffic on Lake Shore Drive frequently getting congested with cars during rush hour, the Lakefront Trail sometimes ends up being the quickest way around Chicago. Bike it with Divvy!
5. The Lakefront Trail is its Own Chicago Attraction, Counting 30K Visitors Daily
During the warmer months, as many as 30,000 people visit the Lakefront trail daily at its key points, according to a study by the Active Transportation Alliance. See it for yourself — and don't forget your camera to capture all the incredible views along the way!
Heads up — a major initiative to separate the Lakefront Trail into two distinct paths (one for pedestrians and another for bicycles) is underway now, making the entire 18-mile pathway even better! Get updates on the Trail Separation Project for any possible detours or construction closures. If you've been to the Lakefront Trail, what's your favorite part? Tweet your thoughts and cool photos with @ChooseChicago and @ChicagoParks.