Chicago Lakefront Path (North)

CYCLE CHICAGO, SIGHTSEEING RIDE, CHICAGO LAKEFRONT PATH NORTH The stunningly beautiful and strikingly busy Lakefront Path is one of Chicago’s greatest assets and one of the nicest urban bike rides in the world. This is the main event, a showcase for Chicago and a testament to the wisdom of our city planners who insisted on keeping the lakefront “forever free and clear.” The path hugs the lakefront, passing parks, beaches, harbors, restaurants, ball fields, tennis courts, beach volleyball courts, floor hockey rink, gym, skating park, ice skating rink (in the winter), sculptures, restored prairies, bird sanctuaries and so on. You’ll even see palm trees along the way, but only for about half the year, until the trees are taken indoors for the winter. And all along the way, you will enjoy great views of the lake and skyline. With so much to do, the path is often very crowded. Watch out for skaters, kids, dog walkers, beachgoers, etc., some of whom won’t be paying attention to their immediate surroundings. And with so much to do, don’t be in a hurry. In addition consider visiting the Lincoln Park Zoo, Lincoln Park Conservatory or the little known but blissfully peaceful Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool on Fullerton Avenue between Stockton Drive and Lake Shore Drive. Meanwhile, Navy Pier offers great shopping, a variety of restaurants, a Ferris wheel, skate and bike rentals, various sorts of boat rides, Chicago Children’s Museum and Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Of course, you could combine the northern and southern sections for a total roundtrip ride of about 38 miles, but if you do be prepared to share a crowded sidewalk along the lower level of a noisy bridge for a couple of blocks in the middle of the ride. Often this trail will be used for a triathlon, charity walk, bike ride or some such event. Plus, there are times when ice, water, sand or construction can block the way. Therefore, make a habit of checking Lakefront Trail Conditions on the Active Transportation Alliance website ( under Resources. But don’t let the winter keep you away. This trail gets plowed! Finally, despite the umpteen organized and commercial activities along the lakefront, remember that you can just “jump in the lake” to cool off during a long hot ride. FOOD AND DRINK Too many options to list. You’ll find everything you need along this ride. ACCESS By car take the CTA Red Line to Grand and the CTA #65 Grand bus to Navy Pier. Other buses also serve Navy Pier, including #29 State, #66 Chicago and #124 Navy Pier. By car, exit Lake Shore Drive at Erie Street and turn left on Illinois Street, following signs for Navy Pier, where there’s usually ample parking.
Ride type:
Mountain biking
Road riding
Kid friendly
Rail Trail
Difficulty: Easy (Blue)
Ride Duration: <1 hr
Fitness Level: Low
Shared Bike Path - Paved
Shared Bike Path - Dirt
On-Road Bike Lane
Off-Road - Fire Trail
Off-Road - Rail Trail
Off-Road - Single Track
Off-Road - Downhill
Estimated Distance (Kms): 12.0
First Aid
Bike hire facilities
Bike servicing
Accessible by bike
Accessible by car
Accessible by public transport
Accessible by shuttle / uber
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