Major Taylor Trail

Illinois

Major Taylor Trail Facts

States: Illinois
Counties: Cook
Length: 7.5 miles
Trail end points: Dan Ryan Woods north of W. 83rd St. at S. Western Ave. (Chicago) and Whistler Woods north of W. 134th St. at S. Halsted St./SR 1 (Riverdale)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6015732
Trail activities: Bike, Inline Skating, Wheelchair Accessible, Walking

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Major Taylor Trail Description

The Major Taylor Trail is named after legendary African American cyclist Marshall “Major” Taylor, who was one of the most celebrated bicycle racers of the late nineteenth century, setting several world records and winning numerous races all over the world. One of Chicago's few truly urban trails, the Major Taylor Trail connects several neighborhoods on the city's southwest side.

The trail starts and ends in areas managed by the Forest Preserves of Cook County: Dan Ryan Woods in the north and Whistler Woods in the south. The northernmost section of the trail—from Dan Ryan Woods to 87th Street—is on an elevated portion of the former train line. Its only street crossing (at 83rd Street) is an overpass with the street below.

The rest of the trail and street crossings are at ground level. The busier street crossings are all assisted with traffic lights or stop signs. At the 95th Street crossing, there's a cluster of fast food restaurants, making this a popular rest stop along the trail. From 95th to 105th Streets, the trail is on city streets, passing through a very nice, tranquil neighborhood.

The rail-trail portions of the trail show ample evidence of their purposed past: tree-lined corridors, nearby industries, and wide right-of-ways. The trail crosses I-57 on an old railroad bridge, and it crosses the Little Calumet River on a cantilevered trailway beside a railroad bridge still in use.

Along its route, the trail has many connections with other modes of public transportation. There are CTA bus stops at or near the busier street crossings, and there are METRA train stations at or near two of the railroad crossings. The southern end of the trail will someday connect with the Cal-Sag Trail, which is now approaching from the west.

Parking and Trail Access

Parking for the Major Taylor Trail can be found at both its Trail End Points (listed above). The more preferred parking is at Dan Ryan Woods, where there are also restrooms and a drinking fountain. The trail can also be accessed from numerous street crossings along the way.

Major Taylor Trail Reviews

Been wanting to go for awhile, finally got out there from Hyde park along the city streets. Really liked the variety of trail and city streets as well as neighborhoods and industrial areas. Friendly folks on trail walking and riding.
Great to have such a cool trail on the south-side of the city and have it connected to such a fantastic Role Model.

I read a lot of reviews about this trail before going to check it out. MANY of those mentioned the problem of glass on the trail, some in pretty uncomplimentary terms. This worried me, especially since we were going to ride the trail on a Saturday morning. (It seems weekend mornings are the worst for finding unwanted leftovers from the night before.) So we took along a whisk broom and a prayer, and ended up using them both. The whisk broom only once, though, when the glass shards were too many to navigate around.

Just north of the really cool bridge over the Little Calumet River, the trail was nearly closed off by overgrown weeds. Otherwise, we found it was in good shape. Most of the people we met on the trail were friendly. Even the group of fellows we encountered still passing around and drinking from a paper bag.. they all greeted us, as well.

As mentioned by the other reviewer here, we found all of this uneasiness on the southern half of the trail. North of 105th Street, the trail is as good as any other city trail. Next time, we'll probably park at Dan Ryan Woods (like we did this time) and just ride to 105th Street and back. Less stress, more smiles.

The north end of the trail is actually pretty nice, the stretch in the dan ryan woods/beverly is enjoyable - not alot of trail here but I find it not only fun to ride, but useful as my only form of transportation is bike.

The south end, though, is a minefield of broken glass! I've not seen so much broken glass on a trail. Its also a pretty sketchy neighborhood, making flats a bit more worrysome.

However, overlooking the glass/'hood, this stretch is very fun to ride and I love the bridge over the river.

When it connects to the new trail I will certainly make more use of the southern end, but for now I'll use it to cut through from the dan ryan woods to beverly.

On that note, the north end of this trail runs right into train tracks - now I see so obviously "rails to trails".

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