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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 in Whistler Woods Forest Preserve connects a short disconnected stretch of the Cal-Sag Trail which runs through the adjacent Joe Louis Golf Course.
Parking is available on either end of the trail: on the north side at Dan Ryan Woods (S. Western Ave. and W. 87th St., Chicago) and on the south side at Whistler Woods Forest Preserve (off Forest View Ave., east of S. Halsted St., in Riverdale).
It was a nice ride, went the wrong way twice but got back on track
On the north end of this well maintained trail you would not know your in the heart of a vibrant metropolitan city. At the north end be sure to add the Dan Ryan Woods circle path to extend your ride. As you ride south the landscape varies to urban in a favorable fashion. There's even a mead tasting room on the trail.
if you don't know about Major Taylor please look him up, as others have said, an American hero.
This ride was a destination adventure that turned out to be better than expected. In less 9 miles you see woodlands paths; a city streets in variety of neighborhoods - from middle class to working class to industrial and commercial. It’s gritty and authentic; all paved on grade. Don’t miss the colorful bridge mural highlighting American’s first international bike champion Major Taylor. eyes
I’ve been riding this trial for 2 years and used it for triathlon training rides even though it is relatively flat. It’s is a beautiful trail with a well maintained surface and occasional street crossing primarily on the southern portion. Their are a few street sections where you would assume the train ends at 95th and 119th. Signage does direct you through these sections. The north section is the more scenic portion. The Dan Ryan Woods area has tree canopy providing shade and the short ride to 95th takes you along well groomed fields. The south portion takes you a across the Cal-Sag channel into a forest preserve where deer encounters will happen. I recently introduced my wife to the trail who kept encouraging me to take her all the way to end. We even picked upped a 2nd couple a long the way. I’ve found this trail to be filled with friendly people who are courteous to cyclists.
When people think of trails, they think of trees, prairies, forest, ponds and lakes. You get very little of that here. But it’s an experience. Carving through the local neighborhoods to complete this “trail”. If you’re not comfortable south of 105th, take your whisk broom back to your cozy higher tax bracket trails. I’m on a mission to bike or walk all Cook county Forest Preserve trails this summer. Wish me luck!
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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