Chicago Lakefront Trail


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Chicago Lakefront Trail Facts

States: Illinois
Counties: Cook
Length: 19 miles
Trail end points: E. 71st. St. and S. South Shore Dr. (US 41) and W. Ardmore Ave. and N. Sheridan Road (Chicago)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt, Concrete
Trail category: Greenway/Non-RT
ID: 6032528

Chicago Lakefront Trail Description



The Chicago Lakefront Trail is aptly named; it spans 19 miles along the shore of Lake Michigan, going right through downtown Chicago to pass many cultural and tourist attractions throughout the city. 


About the Route 

The trail leaves off from the south end of the South Shore Cultural Center, about 9.5 miles south of downtown Chicago. The trail runs through Jackson Park and soon passes the Museum of Science and Industry and Promontory Point, a lovely peninsula that provides the first views of the skyline. 


The trail goes through Burnham Park, which maintains a few nature sanctuaries and harbors. A bit farther north, trail users will catch a few more interesting sights, such as Soldier Field, Adler Planetarium, and Shedd Aquarium, just before entering Grant Park in downtown Chicago. Then the trail reaches the center of the city—and trail users can certainly tell! Tourists and locals flock to this portion of the trail, which provides direct access to Navy Pier, a former navy center that now maintains restaurants, shops, and carnival rides. 


As the trail continues, trail users will find themselves surrounded by Lincoln Park, which is home to a zoo, conservatory, and nature museum. To the right is one of Chicago’s most popular beaches, North Avenue Beach, which lines the lake. A few miles farther north are a couple more beaches—Montrose Beach and Foster Beach—and the trail will end at Kathy Osterman Beach. 


Throughout the trail, there are ample amenities, such as restrooms, water fountains, and concessions. Do be wary of traffic near the center of downtown; there are a number of intersections to cross, as well as increased foot and bike traffic. 



Parking and Trail Access


Parking and Trail Access 

The Chicago Lakefront Trail runs between Kathy Osterman Beach (Edgewater), and South Shore Beach (South Shore). 


Parking is available at: 

  • 7059 S South Shore Dr (Chicago) 
  • N Sheridan Rd (Chicago) 
  • 100 W Addison Dr (Chicago) 


Please see TrailLink Map for all parking options and detailed directions.


Chicago Lakefront Trail Reviews

If you have time for this trail then this is a must do, NOT for kids

We love this trail. We live in the western suburbs of Chicago so this is a trail that we do often. If you live in the area or will be traveling through, it is best to find a parking spot for your car and then get going on your bike. You can do off street parking in Chicago near the lake which is pay by hour or you can park in the numerous parking garages in the area. We get our parking spots for a major discount through spot hero. When we do this trail we like to start at the Maggie Daley park so we get a spot in one of the parking garages right there.
We start at the Maggie Daley lot near the ice skating circle and head north. There are countless beaches, restaurants, food trucks, etc. on this trail. We like to stop at the Lincoln Park Zoo because it is a beautiful free zoo. We walk our bikes through the zoo with no problem or issues.
This trail is a VERY FAST trail for good bike riders. There are TONS of people that are walking, biking, roller blading, and running on this divided trail. There are lanes that are clearly marked for bike riders but that doesn't mean that people follow the signs and the rules. If you decide to do this trail on a weekend plan for there to be a ton of people. I would not suggest that children younger than pre-teen ride individually on this trail. I would worry about children riding into the path of very fast riders and I worry about other people getting irritated with children that may fall or stop unexpectedly on this trail.
The sites that you will see on this trail are simply amazing! You can do this trail over and over again and stop at different places each time. We ride all the way to the end on the north side of town. We also go south to about the 31st beach. This takes you behind Soldier Field and the Shedd Aquarium which is a neat vantage point. We could ride this trail every weekend if we could!

Chicago lake front trail

I rode this trail on a hot, sunny, Saturday afternoon. 35 miles round trip, it’s busy and beautiful. Most of the trail is close enough to Lake Michigan for a lovely view. Not too bumpy, mostly flat. It was a fantastic experience


Amazing trail.

Magnificent Trail

Rode north one day and south the next. They have many places for repairs along the way, which was good, as I needed a tire replaced.
Great trail. Great views.
Easy for those not used to hills.


Great weekend workout trail, if not residing in the city.

This is a lovely, lively bike trail. Have tried it few times on Saturday mornings, and really enjoyed the morning sun and the fresh air. Beautiful city view. Must try trail.

not a current resident of Chicago proper

Enjoyable trail. Not too challenging. I usually ride it once a year and start from near Science and Industry. I have not rode over the sky pass yet by wackier.

Love this trail and ride part of it at least four times a week. The new flyover removes some crowded turns crossing the river.

Love this trail and ride part of it at least four times a week. The new flyover removes some crowded turns crossing the river.

Absolutely love this trail! Great views of Lake Michigan and the famous Chicago Skyline. I also like that there is a seperate path for bicyclists and those that just are walking the trail.

Absolutely love this trail! Great views of Lake Michigan and the famous Chicago Skyline. I also like that there is a seperate path for bicyclists and those that just are walking the trail.

Does the job

Does the job

Absolutely beautiful and electric trail

Absolutely beautiful and electric trail

Most beautiful Trial

I rode this trail many times mostly from Ohio st to s LakeShore Dr where the trails ends past Jackson park but i finally rode from the north side where the trail starts i think its called edge water park or something this trail is full of nice beautiful scenery the Willis tower and the Chicago skyline never fails u look the other way beautiful scenes of lake Michigan only bad thing is this trail is packed all day all night

Under Repair 2020 season

A large portion of the trail is currently closed for repair due to damage caused by Lake Michigan's high water levels. The repairs are in the middle of the trail between North Ave. Beach and Ohio Street Beach. Don't expect this section to reopen until 2021.

Plan your ride for either North or South of the repair zone. There is no viable detour around the repairs. Expect heavy traffic on the trail.

blue water paradise

I completed most of this trail South side to Ohio St Beach I had to stop due to construction but it is very beautiful scenery I don't care what time of day u ride this trail will be busy

beautiful views

I rode this trail back in 2017 from solider field to North Beach I want to complete the whole thing some day but from what I saw this trail is full of nice city views and lake Michigan

Long solo marathon.

Due to cancellation to a lot of road races I was able to run my virtual solo race to complete my Marathon yesterday. I felt safe running along this trail. Some of the paths was barricaded due to hazzards water damage from the lake but tor the most part it was passable. Thank you so much for the experience.


I just wanted to update my review since the separation has (mostly) been completed. There are now 2 trails, one for biking and one for running. It definitely helps with the congestion. There are still some areas you need to pay attention to when the paths cross and you'll still come upon someone that is on the wrong path, but it's much better than it was.


Simply put, it doesn't get any better than this in Illinois. Referred to as the Lake Michigan Trail, this one can be ridden along the lake for more than the advertised 19 miles. I've done every inch of this path numerous times and always look forward to coming back. The entire trail is cement or asphalt making it an easy mover. Wind can obviously play a role (yeah, go figure) as can traffic (many walk, peddle and run this trail). The sites...well...they are as you can imagine, limitless. There are an endless number of places to stop for a rest and an equal number of curiousities to pull over and check out. My favorite is north of Oak Street beach. After a good number of miles I like to pit stop here and jump into the lake to cool off. This isn't for everybody. : ) In all seriousness this path has so much to offer you might ride it 50 times before noticing something new.

A sight to see!

I have road most of this trail twice now, one as part of the LATE ride which the last one was in 2016, riding down the lakefront seeing the sun rise was fantastic! It was so good I went back (a 150 mile drive for me) again to just ride it from end to end.

Part of it needs better signage as around some of the marinas it was confusing but over all it was great. Seeing all the high rises on one side and Lake Michigan on the other sets it above a lot of other trails I have ridden.

I look forward to getting back up there in the next year or 2 to ride again.

BEST views of CHICAGO!

This trail can be described with one word...WOW!!! As construction nears completion (mostly landscaping) and pedestrian traffic moves onto the pedestrian path there is little to criticize. Awesome views of downtown Chicago and all the amenities of the lakefront make this trail a must do if you're in Chicago! I have only rode from Promontory Point to North Avenue Beach but look forward to riding the trail completely in the near future. Access to Grant Park, Millenium Park, Buckingham Fountain, Chicago River Walk, Northerly Island, Soldier Field, Museum of Science and Industry, Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, and Navy Pier plus numerous beaches along the route. Peak days and times will make the trail busy but there is much to enjoy all around you as you make your way through the hustle and bustle of Chicago and it's magnificent lake front views!

Fantastic way to experience Chicago

I've had the opportunity to ride this trail several times now, and it's always a great ride. It's hard to describe the feeling of being on your bike, looking to the west and seeing the Chicago skyline; turning to look East and seeing Lake Michigan, the beaches, the people, the boats, yachts, ships.... It's fantastic.

Along the way in summer there are fun places to stop for a meal, a snack, a beer or glass of wine... and listen to some relaxing (live) music. There are several beaches along the ride, each with their own "flavor". We ride at a leisurely pace, and spend the greater part of the day on the trail. We ended our ride on one occasion with a late night dinner at Millennium Park - what a treat it was dining al fresco while hearing live music playing at the music festival a level up from the restaurant.

The only negative was navigating some congestion at Navy Pier, but that was relatively short-lived, and I believe it should be less of a hassle now that the nearby road/bridge construction is complete. The trail is paved and in good condition, however it's best to come with the expectation that this is a ride meant to be enjoyed at a slower pace. On a nice day there are many walkers, bikers, roller bladers, all of which I found fascinating, and rolling with it, rather than fighting it, is the way to go. There's so much to see and take in!

Riding this trail is fantastic - the city, the lake, the diverse and interesting people enjoying the best summer offers is truly a treat.

Beautiful but...

This is an amazing trail in the city I love. It’ll take you north to Hollywood st and south to the south short cultural center. North you can continue on the streets until hooking up with more trails all the way to WI. South is the same all the way to Indiana. But...’s currently under construction. They’re separating the bike path from the runner/walking path so the trail is being worked on now. When it’s finished it will be magnificent. Just wanted to give you a heads up!

Amazing views!

This trail was perfect. I took my rollerblades with me while on vacation and skated here. It was very cool. The architecture is amazing for admiring and along a beach with things going on in the lake made for great scenery in all directions. Even took an intermission to get my feet in the sand since the trail goes on the beach. I will definitely be back on this trail next time I'm in Chicago!

Full Trail Ride 8/21/2017

I rode the entirety of the trail on 8/21 from Rogers Park to the South Shore Golf Course and back, so a total of a little over 39 miles. While the vast majority of the trail is amazing, there are a few hang ups for anyone looking to take a serious ride. For one, the trail south of the center of the city is in poor condition. Pot holes and cracks are a constant hazard. Secondly, the trail kind of disappears when you get to Navy Pier, and picks back up on the south side of the Chicago River. No designated path for bikes who are forced to share the sidewalk with tourists, pedestrians, and other bikes. It can be a little frustrating. Lastly, the beaches are atrocious to navigate with clueless pedestrians and tourists looking up at the sky, down at their feet, but never behind them to see who is approaching. All that being said, being able to see the city coming from the south side is phenomenal and incomparable to other trails. I highly recommend taking this trail at least once, if only to see the full spectrum of Chicago.

My Fav

No where I'd rather ride!

Best the city has to offer....

This is a great trail that runs along the lake. The only drawback is that it very overcrowded. Please be careful riding this trail because there are tourists, walkers, bikers and everything in between.

Excellent Ride

I've been riding the Lakefront ride for quite some time. I've always had a great ride even during construction. Maybe it's because I generally go early or mid-day. However, I occasionally ride with a group at 6pm. Sometimes we encounter swarms of people especially around Navy Pier & other times we do not. I ride from the South-63rd street & has rode as far north as Irving Park, Fullerton, Hollywood, etc. I generally ride alone (female) & I always feel safe whether I'm riding north or south. Further, the views are magnificent. Now, not everyone will follow the rules of cycling but for the most part, it's a wonderful experience. I have taken friends & they agree it's a beautiful, scenic & pleasant route. I recommend the route to all cyclists (fast or experienced riders please go early--no later than 8am).

Trail Closures and Mile Markers

I live right at Addison and Lake Shore with easy, daily access to the trails. Myself and a hundred others get up at the crack of dawn and bike the trails. I've lost 20 lbs.!

Currently sections of the trail are being resurfaced. Thanks! But the notices that each section is closed doesn't show up until the last minute leaving the biker to turn around and look for the detour. And now an extremely long section is closed at Buena Park with no alternative route other than the street. Better plans could be implemented. I'll try to communicate with the Park District.

As for mile markers, a few exist but not enough markers to help one keep track of how far one has biked. I'll try the alderman's office.

views and crowds

Yes, there are crowds near Navy Pier...Just go slow if crowded. If you want to avoid the crowds, then go early in the morning and don't go on the weekends. The "power" bikers are dangerous. But...that being said, the views are spectacular. You'll want to take your time to take it all in.

Nice but too CROWDED

This trail is nice but way too crowded north of Navy Pier. The worst part is with my fellow bikers who are too lazy to announce that they are passing. It's not hard to say-Passing on your left! But it was rare to hear these words uttered by the numerous road bikers we encountered. Add to this the multitudes of walkers and it is downright unsafe. I was passed while passing a walker while another oncoming biker was on my side. If you do not like heavy crowds, avoid this section of the trail during the evening and on weekends.

I recently rode the section south of Navy Pier to 63rd St. on a Thursday afternoon. It was not crowded at all. Overall it was a nice ride. Getting to 63rd St parking was a bit scary but once there, it felt safer. Of course, Chicago, needing every bit of revenue it can squeeze out of citizens, charges $1.75 per hour to park in a public parking lot. The south section of the trail has quite a few nice parks and overall is a very nice ride. If you park in the 63rd St. lot, avoid the outhouse on the south portion of the lot. It was the most disgusting sight I have ever seen. It had to have been months since a city worker visited this outhouse for a cleaning. Unfortunately, the utterly disgusting vision is etched in my brain. Aside from that, it is a good ride if you stay south of Navy Pier.

Avoid during the summer

This beautiful scenic trail is greatly marred by the amount of people using it during the summer. Local news has estimated that 100,000 people are on it or close to it during ANY given summer day. Avoid it unless you like dodging, swerving, and dealing with other people. For me it adds stress to my ride.


Let me begin with the good things about this trail. As other reviewers have mentioned, this trail is well maintained, and beautiful. You can't beat the views of the city and the water. It's 18 miles of scenery that is unparalleled.

That being said, I hate this trail. I agree with shld2005 who wrote the review "not good for a legitimate workout... only for putzing around." There are walkers, dog walkers, joggers, in-line skaters, BBQ'ers, strollers, and other cyclists all using the trail. It's great that it's a resource for everyone, but it renders this trail unsuitable for anyone who'd like to get a real workout. I find that I can only ride this trail at about 530 am so that I can be done before 8 am on weekdays. Cooler temps generally makes it better for those who want to work on their fitness because the better the weather, the busier this trail is. Also, this trail is used for many organized runs and walks during the summer. I have not found a good resource for telling us when all of these events take place, so you may run into even more traffic because you were unaware of some event that is taking place on this trail.

I'd like to comment that the cyclists on road bikes who are exercising on the trail are not "training for the tour de france" just like the runners who are on this trail are not training for the Olympics. Let's all be tolerant please. That being said, for those who are finding it challenging to get a good workout on this trail, I'd recommend taking the new extension to the lakefront trail south to the Eerie Lackawanna trail in Indiana or the Burnham Greenway trail.

lake front bike trail

This is not a trail for running people over. It is a casual bike trail thousands of people use it daily.good views decently kept up and project ongoing. For the most part you will find it enjoyable at all points you ride. If you are training for tour de france go someplace else.

North / South

Anything north of Navy Pier is going to be filled with tourists, inconsiderate bikers, and way too many people. Avoid it. Go south of the Museum Campus and you will love it. The crowds dimish greatly thus leaving the ride better for views and stress levels.


A few years ago while doing the National Restaurant Show We put a few bikes on the tuck that toke all of our stuff to the show. This is one great trail as it has a great view of both the Lake and the City. There is a lot of both foot traffic and bike traffic so make sure you have a bell as it really works I am not a big fan of green ways but this is a great one. It is flat and wide with a good surface but it dose get windy.


Great view of the lake and city the entire route. Some of the pavement is pretty rough.

Chicago Lakefront Trail

I come to Chicago often to enjoy the city and this time I brought along my bike and rode the Chicago Lakefront Trail. It was amazing. The views were great, the people and the accessibility to food, drink and restrooms. I found it very exhilarating. I plan to return and do it more.

simply the best

One of the best places to be in the Chi. Well maintained, simply love it!

Loved the Lakefront Bike Path

While visiting Chicago, we ran and rode bikes on the Lakefront Bike Path. It is a fantastic representation for the incredible City of Chicago. It is well maintained, has many working water fountains, beautiful views, beaches and many people using the path. I absolutely fell in love with the accessibility to the path and used it as often as I could!!

If you visit Chicago, using this path is a MUST!!!

Beautiful ride

There is usually some traffic on this trail of various types - foot, bike, etc. I was out recently on a pretty cold day with high winds so it was not crowded at all. Lake Michigan was (literally) *right* there. On a windy day it can be very up close and personal in spots. It is a very scenic ride; the views are just spectacular. The view of the water makes you feel like you're on vacation, even if you're not. I ended up at Navy Pier. This is a nice day out. Would not normally be a difficult ride (not hilly) unless it's a windy day in which case half the ride will be really easy and the other half not so much.

great scenery

this is still a great path to ride. i only ride beach cruisers and this is just perfect. i know the hard core bikers think it is too slow, but keep in mind there are 100,000 people out and about. between the beaches and the dog parks, tons of stuff to see and do. stop and play a game of chess or watch a volleyball game. there are clean bathrooms and plenty of water fountains along the way. the pace is not for speed training even tho some stubborn types think so. if you are in it to train for the tour de france, you are in the wrong area.
so many people to see and watch out for actually makes it the most enjoyable path in chicago. at any moment
you can just stop and relax and take in the action. after all, everyone needs to stop and smell the roses once in a while.
the only warning i can give is do not park at the montrose lot. even with the tennis courts, and the bike repair shack right there, you will have your car broken into. last week i counted 8 vehicles with the side window smashed. it is almost inconceivable that someone has not been caught yet. about once a month it seems to happen again and again. not sure why this area is so nasty, but needs attention.

Scenic Trail in Lincoln Park

A busy, noteworthy Trail. Enjoyed the scenery on this autumn day, lucky that the high rise apartment buildings sheltered the trail from a strong west wind. Noel Keller 14 Oct 2011

not good for a legitimate workout... only for putzing around

North of Navy Pier this path is full of dogs, cell phone talkers, iPod listeners, strollers, inattentive bikers/ runners, roller bladers etc etc. and only good for getting to point B from point A slow-ish-ly (and not a legitimate workout). Be careful and pay attention!

Awesome Trail

The views on this trail are amazing. Chicago's skyline at night is just superb! You should try this trail!

Great, Sunny ride.

This path suffers from really one thing, being exposed to the elements nearly the entire ride. True, there is some coverage farther south, but it never lasts long.

It's great though, even on hot days the lake is so close there is a nice cool breeze. At the "end" there is a nice shaded spot to stop and have a quick bite and get back going again. The trail is paved the entire length, though sometimes it's falling apart. There are a few parts where it does get pretty tight and that is usually where its also the busiest - so be careful. Great views nearly the entire ride, that is for sure.

Chicago Lakefront Trail

I live on the lakefront and ride this trail virtually daily. It is one of the best things about living in Chicago. You can ride a sunrise and enjoy the breathtaking view of the sun rising over Lake Michigan. Also, since Meigs Field, the little airport by the lake was closed, the mayor has planted a genuine Chicago Prairie there, AND a 1.5 mile bike path. It is gorgeous riding and the views of the Chicago Lakefront at superb. You can also look south and east along the shoreline. They have changed the name to Northerly Island. Highly recommended.

Great Trail

"This is a great trail, well maintained, clean, and fast. The city of Chicago takes excellent care of this trail and surrounding areas. I ride it all of the time."

My Saturday morning stroll

"For the past 30 years, my friend D. and I either walked or biked this trail every Saturday morning at 7:00 a.m. We take a break and walk into the city, have breakfast and then return to the trail.

Individually, we exercise on teh trail during the week as well. On the weekends the ""traffic"" can be unbearable. On weekends during the summer, many 10k runs are held, as well as organized training runs, so it can not be the escape it is during the weekdays.

Nevertheless, this is a treasure. The trail from around Irving Park to Oak Street is the busiest on the weekends. The south side end is not so busy, although the area around Hyde Park is well used.

Even if you just visit Chicago, this trail is a treasure to explore. Bikes can be rented at Navy Pier and elsewhere."

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