Major Taylor Trail

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.


More Details

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. 


Ride Log

  • 0.0 There’s no sign here for the Major Taylor Trail but it starts in the northeast corner of the parking lot where it says “Motor vehicles prohibited.” Follow the path as it swings north and east.
  • 0.2 Turn right at T going south.
  • 0.9 Cross 87th St.
  • 1.5 Bear left and cross tracks.
  • 1.6 Turn right to pick up trail going south.
  • 2.3 Turn right on 97th St, walk your bike on sidewalk and cross Prospect Ave. Bike south on Prospect Ave.
  • 3.5 Turn left on 105th St.
  • 3.7 Cross Vincennes Ave, then cross tracks.
  • 3.9 Turn right, picking up trail going south.
  • 4.1 Cross 107th St.
  • 4.7 Cross 111th St.
  • 5.2 Cross 117th St.
  • 5.6 Cross 118th St.
  • 5.8 Cross 119th St and Halsted St.
  • 5.9 Cross 120th St.
  • 6.0 Bear left.
  • 6.1 Turn right over tracks.
  • 6.2 Pick up trail going south on left and cross 122nd St.
  • 6.3 Cross 123rd St.
  • 6.5 Cross 124th St.
  • 6.9 Cross 127th St, which is busier than the other streets.
  • 7.2 Beautiful community garden on right.
  • 7.3 Bridge over Calumet Sag Channel.
  • 7.4 Bear right to enter Whistler Forest Preserve.
  • 7.8 Bike past stop sign and ride through parking lot.
  • 8.2 Turn around at end of parking lot at Jackson St.
  • 8.5 Return to path in woods at end of parking lot.
  • 10.2 Cross tracks and bear left.
  • 10.5 Cross Halsted St and 119th St.
  • 12.4 Turn left at 105th St. Don’t bike straight ahead into Metra parking.
  • 12.5 Cross tracks and then Vincennes at the light. Walk your bike along sidewalk half a block north and bike left on Charles St.
  • 12.7 Turn left on 104th St.
  • 12.9 Turn right on Prospect Ave.
  • 13.4 Ignore bike sign for “Alternate Vincennes Ave.”
  • 13.9 Turn right on 97th St following sign for bike route.
  • 14.0 Turn left on Charles St following sign for bike route.
  • 14.1 Cross 95th St and walk bike to the right along sidewalk. Pick up trail going north immediately to the left.
  • 14.7 Bear left, cross tracks and pick up bike trail.
  • 15.3 Cross 87th St and pick up trail with yellow strip into woods on left.
  • 16.3 End ride.
  • Trail map

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    25.585 km / 15.898 mi

    Total Distance

    123 m / 402 ft

    Total Ascent

    123 m / 403 ft

    Total Descent

    193 m / 632 ft

    Highest Point

    Ride type:
    Mountain biking
    Road riding
    Kid friendly
    Rail Trail
    Difficulty: Intermediate (Red)
    Ride Duration: <1 hr
    Fitness Level: Medium
    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
    Mobile Coverage: Excellent
    Estimated Distance: 26.0
    First Aid
    Bike hire
    Bike servicing
    Accessible by bike
    Accessible by car
    Accessible by public transport
    Accessible by shuttle / uber

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