10 Best Places To Run In Chicago - RunBuzz -Experienced Online Running Coaches For All Skill Levels

10 Best Places To Run In Chicago

10-Best-Places-To-Run-In-Chicago-Illinois

Chicago is a great place for occasional joggers, experienced runners and dedicated marathoners. It offers numerous beautiful routes for a sweat session all across the city, in the gorgeous parks and around the lake. You can get away from busy bustling streets and constant red lights and enjoy the peaceful trails, paths, and parks of Chicago.

If you are searching for the best places to run in Chicago, check out the list below. You might find new favorite running spots to keep up with your running routine year-round, during the hot summer days and long Chicago winter.

1. Lakefront Path

Lakefront-Path

Details About the Place

  • Located along the western shore of Lake Michigan in ChicagoIllinois.
  • As of December 15, 2018, the former 18-mile combined use trail has been separated into an 18-mile Bike Trail and 18.5-mile Pedestrian Trail
  • The Lakefront Path  gives runners access to some of Chicago’s cultural treasures, from Millennium Park and the Museum campus downtown to the Museum of Science and Industry in Hyde Park.
  • The trail passes through and connects Chicago’s four major lakefront parks along with various beaches and recreational amenities.

LAKEFRONT TRAIL SEPARATION (Parks)

Lincoln Park  

  • Ardmore to Montrose
  • Montrose to Fullerton
  • Fullerton to North
  • North to Oak
  • Oak to Ohio

Grant Park 

  • Chicago River to Roosevelt Rd.

Burnham Park 

  • Roosevelt to 31st St.
  • 31st to 35th St.
  • 35th to 41st St.
  • 41st to 55th St.

Jackson Park          

  • 55th to 71st  

LAKEFRONT TRAIL SEPARATION (Sections)

NORTH

The northern section of the trail starts off at Hollywood Ave. near Foster Beach, and runs south all the way to 71st St. near Rainbow Beach Park in South Chicago. This section is less crowded, a little more bucolic, and features a gravel running path.

MIDDLE

The middle section parallels the heart of downtown and the Magnificent Mile, and includes sights such as Navy Pier, Grant Park, the Museum Campus, and Soldier Field. The path here is concrete and the trail can be crowded on a nice day.


SOUTH

South of Museum Campus is the Convention Center area, while the final four miles feature great views and access to the University of Chicago and Hyde Park.


Trail Safety Tips

The Lakefront Trail is open 24 hours a day, but the parks and beaches along the path close at 11 p.m.

Caution Signs: Signs have been posted at the entrances (access points) of the wet pavement areas, cautioning pedestrians of the possibility of slippery conditions.

This path gets insanely busy, especially during Spring/Summer/Fall. Be mindful of other trail users.

2. North Shore Channel Trail

 North Shore Channel Trail

Details About the Place

  • It Runs from Lincoln Square near West Lawrence Avenue and North Francisco Avenue and stops in Evanston at Green Bay Road.
  • The North Shore Channel Trail is a multi-use trail.
  • All but the last 0.25 mile runs alongside the North Shore Channel, a drainage and aeration canal built in 1909; the last 0.25 mile follows the North Branch of the Chicago River.
  • For most of the way, a trail occupies both sides of the North Shore Channel.
  • The route is paved with either crushed limestone or asphalt along the way.
  • If you’re in the mood for a different scene altogether, try the 6.5-mile riverside North Shore Channel Trail. It starts at Ronan Park, just north of Lawrence at Francisco, and snakes its north along the water from Albany Park through Lincolnwood and Skokie to its terminus at the Ladd Arboretum in Evanston. Underpasses allow riders and joggers to avoid most roadway crossings and enjoy sights like the Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park, which runs the length of McCormick Boulevard from Touhy to Dempster. Just don’t be tempted to take a dip after your run.
  • Starting at Ronan Park, the North Shore Channel Trail is a quieter running route that spans almost exactly a half-marathon distance both ways. It’s great for distance training or simply running in a different scene.

3. Northerly Island Trail

Northerly-Island-Trail

Details About the Place

  • Northerly Island Park is a 119-acre Natural Area and park, situated along the Lake  Michigan shoreline on Chicago’s beautiful Museum Campus.
  • The area is designed as a natural preserve, and the bike paths on the island are organized to best see the different ecosystems on the island. There’s a big outer loop, a little over a mile total, with several trails connecting in the middle. This obviously isn’t the place to get a lot of mileage. But with its connection to the Lakefront Path, Northerly Island is a great place to visit.
  • 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.

Safety Tips

The mile of paved paths has no lighting to create as natural of an environment as possible. The park is open until 11:00 PM, and it is advised by park security to bring a flashlight.

Northerly Island’s Nature Center is open weekdays from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm.


Supervisor: Teishetta Daniel

Warning: the eastern edge of the trail was washed out during spring storms, so you won't be able to do a full loop until that is repaired. Ca​ll th​e Fie​ldhouse to check on the status before you go.

4. Humboldt Park

Humboldt-Park

Details About the Place

  • Humboldt Park, one of 77 designated community areas, is on the West Side of ChicagoIllinois.
  • Humboldt Park is located in Wicker Park, one of Chicago’s most fun and quirky neighborhoods. It’s a beautiful, green park area that has several trails for runners, hikers, and bikers.
  • You can access Humboldt Park from the 606 trail for an extended run, or to explore even more of this lovely area of the city. There’s a loop trail around the park that’s short and sweet for a ~2 mile run around the area.
  • Looping around the park's perimeter then across the lagoon via North Humboldt Drive and Luis Munoz Drive gets you about 3.5 miles. For extra mileage, locals often add on a jog down Humboldt Boulevard, a wide street lined with lush green lawns and classic architecture.

5. The 606 or Bloomingdale Trail

The-606-or-Bloomingdale-Trail

Details About the Place

  • 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.
  • This ro​​​​ute is all about elevation and urban beauty. Starting from Ashland Avenue to Ridgeway Avenue, the path will have runners 20 feet above Logan Square, Bucktown, Humboldt Park and Wicker Park. With plenty of access points, any experienced runner can appreciate the less strenuous distance. Bridges and slight elevation allow runners to enjoy the community art projects around the path, or the neighborhoods’ architecture from below.
  • Keep an eye out for artwork along the route, including murals and sculptures like Brick House, which resembles a giant snake made of tires and steel.

Safety Tips

The 606 park and trail system is operated by the Chicago Park District and is open every day from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The Bloomingdale Trail is a 10-foot-wide path with 2-foot-wide running tracks along both sides. All users are welcome, though no motorized or commercial vehicles are allowed.


A few simple courtesies will help keep everyone happy and safe: stay to the right, pass on the left, step aside if you stop, encourage your children to do the same, and keep your dog on a short leash. Please respect the neighbors who live along the trail.


Visit The606.org or call 312.742.4622 for up-to-date information about the winter weather mostly in case of snow.

6. Chicago Riverwalk

Chicago-Riverwalk

Details About the Place

  • The 4-mile loop of the Chicago Riverwalk is a great way to do an off-road run combining views of the water, the Chicago skyline, and some of the city’s architectural highlights. It’s a good standalone run, or can be combined with The Loop tour or the Lakefront and Park routes.
  • A run on the 3.4-mile trail on the Riverwalk is best done in the mornings, when the boardwalk isn’t so full of bar-hoppers and large groups. At this time of day, you’ll get more uninterrupted running time and spend less energy dodging other people.
  • The Chicago Riverwalk is a popular destination for downtown workers, residents and visitors enjoying one of the many concessions, public art, or people watching along the 1.25 mile long path!  The Chicago Riverwalk is a pedestrian path surrounded by landscaping and public art, in a canyon of world famous architecture. 

Safety Tips

The Department of Fleet and Facility Management, in coordination with the Chicago Police Department and Chicago Fire Department have prepared the follow list of safety tips in order to make your visit more enjoyable.


Remember that you are still in an urban environment and need to be aware of your surroundings.  Chicago Riverwalk Security can be easily found with their yellow shirts and jackets patrolling the entire stretch of the Riverwalk between Lake Shore Drive and Lake Street.  The Chicago Police Officers also patrol the Chicago Riverwalk and can be frequently observed throughout the path on foot or bike.


Peddling on the Chicago Riverwalk is prohibited.  Do not purchase any items from peddlers on the Chicago Riverwalk.  Peddlers may approach you for the sale of candy, but these interactions are a way for potential thieves to identify the location of your wallet.

7. Grant Park

 Grant-Park

Details About the Place

  • Grant Park, modeled after the gardens at Versailles, runs between Michigan Ave. and the Museum Campus.
  • Grant Park is also home to the start and finish of the Chicago Marathon.
  • Proudly referred to as "Chicago's Front Yard," Grant Park totals 312.98 acres and is a public park located in Chicago’s central business district in the Loop Community area. Grant Park’s most notable features include Millennium Park, Maggie Daley Park, Buckingham Fountain, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum Campus.
  • Grant Park offers many different attractions in its large open space. The park is generally flat. It is crossed by large boulevards and pedestrian bridges are used to connect Millennium Park and Maggie Daley so that patrons may cross S. Columbus Drive with ease. There are also several parking garages underneath the park, near Michigan Avenue.

Safety Tips

Park Hours

6:00 am-11:00 pm

the Chicago Marathon

Important Info For Marathoners

Note: Grant park is where the Chicago Marathon starts. If you are planning to challenge yourself and participate in this fantastic running event, make sure to check out our Guide to the Chicago Marathon.


Find out all the important details: marathon course and strategies, where to stay, where to eat, and where to celebrate during the Chicago marathon.


We've also added the tips on where to go and what to see if you are the first time in Chicago, and would like to explore and feel the vibe of the city.


8. Lincoln Park

Lincoln-Park

Details About the Place

  • Lincoln Park Trail is a 5.5 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Chicago, Illinois that features a lake and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October.
  • Within the park, you’ll find over 5 miles of runner-friendly trails. Along your run, you can admire the gorgeous Victorian architecture in the neighborhood, and you can pass by the zoo or the Lincoln Park Conservatory. Nearby, the Lincoln Park trails lead right to the North Avenue Beach stretch of the Lakefront Trail, perfect for extending your run and enjoying the cool, breezy lake air.
  • Lincoln Park is well known for the Lincoln Park Zoo, a free zoo that is open year-round.
  • Marathon trainees can shake up their lakefront running regimens by taking a detour around the North Pond Nature Sanctuary or through the Lincoln Park Zoo, which is mostly pedestrian-free during off-hours and you can choose from several routes to access different exhibit spaces.

Safety Tips

The zoo itself opens at 10 am, but gates open to the public at 7 am year-round.

The zoo’s crowds can be avoided by taking the route before the zoo opens at 10 a.m.

9. Palos Trail System

 Palos-Trail-System

Details About the Place

  • The Palos Trail System offers more than 25 miles of off-road running.
  • If you’ve never run off-road before, this is the best place to do it in the Chicago area. Escape the city and enjoy the seclusion of the trails. It's also the place where you'll find most of the off-road running races in the area.
  • The trails in the Palos Trail System include something rare in the Chicago area—hills. You can find both challenging and easy trails, but you'll definitely deal with an elevation change.
  • Though technically a mountain bike link, runners also love this extensive trail system southwest of Chicago, near Palisades. The network has a trail for everyone from seasoned veterans to new trail runners. Loops range anywhere from 1.3 to 9.2 miles, with opportunities to tack on mileage on the Cal-Sag, I&M, and Centennial multi-use paths.

Safety Tips

HOURS: Year-round: Sunrise to Sunset

10. Milwaukee Avenue

Milwaukee-Avenue

Details About the Place

  • While not necessarily a running trail, this diagonal avenue is the best way to get a taste of multiple Chi-town neighborhoods in just one run. Beginning in West Town, it takes you through Wicker Park, Bucktown, Logan Square, and Avondale’s “Polish Village.” As its name suggests, the avenue keeps going all the way to Milwaukee.

Additional Running Resources

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Steve is the founder and head running coach of RunBuzz.com. Steve is host of the RunBuzz podcast and founder of PaceBuilders, a complete online training program for runners. Steve is a RRCA / USA Track and Field Certified Running Coach and resides in Lewis Center, Ohio.