Cycle Chicago, Sightseeing Ride, Northwestern University Trail
Although this pleasant ride in Evanston is short, a big portion of the path is on a loop so you can lengthen the ride as much as you like. The loop circles a serene section of Northwestern University overlooking Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline. Although the loop is on campus, you’re likely to see many other people biking, walking and unwinding here besides students. They’re all drawn by the safety and tranquility of this lakeside haven, a great place to kick back.
The path is primarily paved but some of it is a little bumpy over crushed gravel.
Take the CTA’s Purple Line or Metra’s Union Pacific North Line to Main Street, bike one block north to Lee Street and six short blocks east to Elliot Park.
By car, take Sheridan Road to Evanston, turn east on Lee Street and drive one block to Elliot Park.
Food and Drink
Water is available throughout the park in the first half of the ride.
Check out the Charles G. Dawes House at 225 Greenwood St. in Evanston. Dawes was the U.S. Vice President under Calvin Coolidge and winner of the 1925 Nobel Peace Prize for helping Europe recover from World War I. His mansion is quite impressive.
Tucked away on the campus of one of Chicago’s great universities, this ride is easy and relaxing. Northwestern University has certainly made the most of this priceless piece of lakefront property. And preserving the tradition of keeping the lakefront open to the public, this private university generously shares this idyllic setting and multiuse trail with others.
It allows the site to be used for occasional charitable walks and community events as well as by casual users - like you. OK, the legalistic wording on the signs posted at entrances to the trail is not very welcoming, but the signs make it clear that the trail is open to more than just university students and employees. Although this trail is off the beaten path, check it out. Bring a picnic, a book and/or a game because you’ll want to linger here. The view of the Chicago skyline is spectacular, and the wide-open access to the lake is breathtaking.
Here you can sit looking out on the lake without the roar of traffic behind you and without houses and tall buildings detracting from the majesty of the mighty Lake Michigan. While you’re in the neighborhood, tour the campus, which was founded in 1851 and has expanded a lot over the years, partly through landfill. The university currently enrolls about 17,000 students.
You could also run into town and visit Evanston, a dynamic, eclectic suburb full of bookstores, cafes, restaurants and other attractions, including bike shops. The CTA’s Purple Line “L” through Evanston takes its name from Northwestern’s school colors. The ride begins and ends in Elliot Park, a local park in Evanston that reflects the local residents’ diversity and love of nature. If you’re feeling extra energetic, the path through the park is equipped with several exercise stations.
And in case you want to swim or sunbathe, the beach in the park maintains a guarded bicycle corral during the summer. Bike parking is free but use of the beach costs $8 a day, unless you live in Evanston and have a beach token.
6.604 km / 4.104 mi
72 m / 237 ft
72 m / 237 ft
184 m / 603 ft