Cycle Chicago, Sightseeing Ride, Major Taylor Trail
The Major Taylor Trail is named after Marshall “Major” Taylor, a little known African-American champion cyclist of the 1890s and early 20th century. Opened in 2007, this trail is one of Chicagoland’s newest. It’s worth a spin because it’s so rare: a long, primarily nature trail almost entirely contained within the city limits. Also, the trail could use more riders and more support to help it fulfill its promise of providing a viable biking option to Chicago’s underserved South Side.
A combination of paved path and on-street bike lanes, with some bumpy spots.
There are several road crossings, large and small.
Mass transit is not recommended for this ride, although several CTA buses, including the #48 South Damen, #9 Ashland, #8A South Halsted and #108 Halsted/95th, intersect the trail at various points.
By car, exit Interstate 94 at 83rd Street going west. After 2.5 miles, turn north into the entrance of Dan Ryan Woods’ “North Groves 15 & 16” and drive to the northeast corner of the parking lot.
Food and Drink
There are several restaurants and stores between the first and third miles of the ride.
The Major Taylor Trail starts in the Dan Ryan Woods, continues south through a short segment on city streets, parallels an abandoned railroad right-of-way, crosses the Calumet Sag Channel and finishes in Riverdale’s Whistler Forest Preserve. It offers a lot of variety and plenty of things to see along the way. As such, this bike ride takes you through areas that are lush and green as well as rough and rundown, quiet and residential as well as urban and traffic congested.
Marshall “Major” Taylor was truly inspiring. Born in 1878, the immensely talented athlete was the American sprint champion in 1890 and set several world records. He raced in Europe and Australia, was considered the fastest bicyclist in the world and lit the field afire at a time when bicycle racing was the biggest national and international sport.
Overcoming racial discrimination, the devout, hardworking, tea-totaling Taylor was the first African-American athlete to achieve the level of renowned world champion. Still, most Americans have never heard of him. Taylor has several ties to Chicago.
25.585 km / 15.898 mi
123 m / 402 ft
123 m / 403 ft
193 m / 632 ft