Exploring Chicago’s Lakefront Trail North. The Lakefront Trail is one of Chicago’s best attractions. It runs north and south parallel and to the east of Lake Shore Drive. You can walk it, skate it, bike it or use Divvy bikes along the way. And the best part is it’s FREE. From north to south it’s 16 miles. The north portion is approximately 9 miles.
Part of the trail was separated. One set of lanes for walkers and one set for everyone else. Guess what? THis summer someone rode right past me on the walking trail so keep in mind the trail is very crowded on weekends with walkers, runners, leisure and professional bikers, inattentive texters, dogs and strollers, etc. If you’re interested in heading south check out Exploring Chicago’s Lakefront Trail South.
Put on comfortable shoes, grab the sunscreen, a picnic and water and enjoy. Happy trails!
Navy Pier to Oak Street Beach 1.1 miles
Get onto the trail to the west of Navy Pier off of Grand Avenue. The Lakefront Trail Flyover is under construction in the area so follow the orange detour signs. First stop is Ohio Street (Olive Beach) west of Lake Point Tower (the large black building). You can grab a bite at Caffe Oliva or wade in for a swim. Open swimming is allowed at Ohio Street Beach.
Proceed north along the path to the next stop at Oak Street Beach (1 mile). There’s a beach house, a restaurant, Oak Street Beach Food + Drink, and sports equipment rental and restrooms. When you’re sitting at the restaurant sipping a cocktail and looking out at the water it’s like being in the Caribbean.
Oak Street Beach to North Avenue Beach 6 blocks
Staying on the path continue north for half a mile to North Avenue Beach. At this point you will have entered Lincoln Park so you might want to take a Free Art Tour in Lincoln Park. Or as you go by a statute it will be on the art tour list. Stop at the Chess Pavilion and play a game. Head on and grab a drink at Castaways, watch some beach volleyball. Check your email on the free wifi. Rent some water sports equipment and get some exercise. The boat field house with restrooms.
If you exit the path at LaSalle Drive and head west you can stop in at the Chicago History Museum. Divvy station at the Museum.
North Avenue Beach to Fullerton Avenue 1 mile
Continuing on the path north take the pedestrian bridge over Lake Shore Drive and proceed north through Lincoln Park. Get a drink at Cafe Brauer or continue north to the Lincoln Park Zoo. North of the Zoo is the Lincoln Park Conservatory and Alfred Caldwell Lily Pond. Cross Fullerton and check out the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (free on Thursdays). Double back to Fullerton and head back toward the Lake.
Fullerton Avenue to Diversey Harbor 1/2 mile
Continue north to Diversey Harbor. Just west of the Peggy Notebaert Museum is the North Pond Sanctuary. Or continue north to the Diversey driving range or play miniature golf. Sit on the steps and watch the boats out in the lake. There’s a Bacino’s Italian Grill just south of the driving range.
Diversey Harbor to Belmont Harbor 1/2 mile
Continue north four blocks to Belmont. Check out the dogs at the Belmont Harbor Dog Beach (no people beach at Belmont). Loop around the top end of the Belmont Harbor to head over to the Archery range. Walk along the steps on the lake to the east or continue on the path at the west.
Belmont Harbor to Addison 1/2 mile
Continue north to Addison. Head north past the Totem Pole and turn right and head east to the Bill Jarvis Migratory Bird Sanctuary. North of the Sanctuary is the Waveland Picnic Field. Or stop at the Sydney Marovitz Golf Course and the Clock Tower Cafe, 3600 N Recreation Dr, (312) 742-7930. Exit at the underpass at Addison and walk west to Wrigley Field at Addison and Clark Street. Get your picture taken with the World Series Trophy for free.
Addison to Irving Park Road 1/2 mile
Irving Park Road to Montrose Harbor 1/2 mile
Continue north toward Montrose. Half way to Montrose you’ll pass the Peace Garden along the Trail. Just south of Montrose Avenue at the north end of the golf course you can stop at the Montrose Nature Area. At Montrose head to the beach and grab a beverage at the Dock at Montrose Harbor. To the east of the Dock is the Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary. Continuing north on the trail watch the dogs play at Montrose Wilson Dog Beach. West of the dog beach is the Wilson Skate Park.
Amenities at Montrose Beach include a beach house, sports equipment for rent, restrooms, free wifi. South of the recreational beach, is a wetlands, dunes and a bird habitat. You can also take sailing lessons at Montrose Harbor.
Montrose to Lawrence 1/2 mile
Montrose Beach goes all the way north to Lawrence.
Lawrence to Foster Beach 1/2 mile
Amenities at Foster Beach include a beach house, sports equipment for rent, restrooms, and free wifi. A popular dog beach is also located at the northeast end of Foster Avenue Beach.
Foster to Hollywood/Osterman Beach 1/2 mile
This beach (most people call it Hollywood Beach) has a beach house, sports equipment for rent, restrooms, free wifi and a food concession Nacho Mama’s Burrito Bar. A nearby nature area attracts migratory birds during spring and fall seasons. Osterman Beach is at the northernmost point of Lincoln Park. This beach is really nice and has great views of the city. Edgewater Beach Cafe, 5545 N Sheridan Rd west of Lake Shore Drive at Bryn Mawr, ( 773) 275-4141.
To bike father north you will have to ride along Sheridan Road. To do this take the Lakefront Trail all the way to the end. Turn left on Ardmore. Turn right on the first street, Sheridan Road. This is a narrow road so if you decide to ride on side streets west of Sheridan Road keep in mind this is the Uptown neighborhood which is safe during the day but I wouldn’t ride around at dusk or dark and always be aware.