The Best Running Routes in Chicago

Cyclists, runners and walkers on Chicago's gorgeous trail, The 606.
Cyclists, runners and walkers on Chicago's gorgeous trail, The 606. | © Colin Hinkle / Courtesy of The Trust for Public Land
Photo of Tim Marklew
20 July 2017

Chicago is a great place for joggers and runners, with beautiful, functional and convenient routes all across the city, getting you away from busy streets and constant red lights. While it definitely takes dedication to keep up with your routine during the long Chicago winter, knowing the city’s best trails, paths and parks can certainly help year-round.

The Lakefront Trail

There are many reasons to run on the Lakefront Trail: the great views of the lake and city, the calm and peaceful atmosphere, the fresh air, and the motivation brought about by sharing the trail with many other runners and cyclists. Stretching for over 18 miles (28.9 kilometers) from Edgewater to South Shore, mile markers make it perfect for tracking both short and long distance runs, and it’s so long that you can mix up which sections you use each time.

The Lakefront Trail, Chicago, IL, USA, +1 312 742 7529

Northerly Island

Museum, Park
Taking a diversion off the Lakefront Trail at Museum Campus, Northerly Island is a man-made peninsula featuring a number of paths for walking and running. Despite its proximity to the city, the 91-acre space is quiet and dedicated to nature, offering a more pleasant environment for your run if you want to get away from the city.

The 606

Hiking Trail, Park
The 606
Cyclists, runners and walkers on Chicago's gorgeous trail, The 606. | © Colin Hinkle / Courtesy of The Trust for Public Land
Created specifically for walkers, runners and cyclists, The 606 is a multi-use trail and urban garden built on an old elevated train line. Alongside great views, manicured gardens and public art, useful features of the trail for runners include distance markers and soft surface paths. At 2.7 miles (4.3 kilometers) long, it’s fairly short, but there’s plenty to see to keep things entertaining on multiple journeys.

North Shore Channel Trail

The North Shore Channel Trail is quieter than many of these routes due to its location further out of the city, and there are many other reasons to try it. Starting in Ravenswood and running all the way to Evanston, 6.7 miles (10.8 kilometers) in total, woodland-surrounded sections of the path provide shelter from both the sun and the wind, and there are plenty of water fountains in parks along the way.

North Shore Channel Trail, Chicago, IL, USA

Chicago Riverwalk

Park, Architectural Landmark
Looking down onto the Riverwalk in downtown Chicago on a warm summer day.
© D Guest Smith / Alamy Stock Photo

Designed more with relaxing tourists in mind, the Riverwalk nevertheless can be an amazing place to run, surrounded by some of the city’s most iconic buildings and the flowing Chicago River. There may be pedestrian traffic at times, but it’s almost always better than the crowds, traffic and red lights on the busy streets above.

Lincoln Park

Park, Zoo
Lincoln Park has everything—beaches, harbors, ponds, gardens, city views, and plenty of paths for runners to see it all while getting their sweat on. You can even make your run extra fun by taking a diversion through the free Lincoln Park Zoo, not an option that runners in many cities have available to them.

Humboldt Park

Just a couple of blocks south of The 606 in the up-and-coming neighborhood of the same name, Humboldt Park is a great option for extending your run. The huge 219-acre park has an inland beach and historic lagoons, with many paths and trails to get a good workout on while enjoying the scenery.

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