Along Michigan Avenue from Hollywood Ave to 71st Street
Lakefront Trail is the path of choice for Chicagoans living anywhere near the lakefront or those that have a long run planned. Completely free to users, the Lakefront Trail (LFT) follows the Lake Michigan waterfront 9 miles north and south of Navy Pier. It’s extremely easy to join up to the LFT, as there are dedicated entry points approximately every half a mile or so. A variety of parking is available on the trail, including free, metered, and fee areas. The entire length of the trail is hard surface–concrete and asphalt, but mostly concrete–with portions dedicated to cyclists, pedestrians, and runners at various stages. The course is largely flat, as is most of Chicago, but there are some options for rises and hills along the way.
One of the best features of the trail is the abundance of water fountains and public restrooms along the route! Emergency phone boxes are also on the trail, although not as frequent as the water/bathrooms. During the summer months, the Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA) and other sports stores and running groups set up water and Gu stations throughout the course on Saturdays and Sundays to aid those getting in a long run or ride!
It’s important to remember that during the summer, many races are held on the trail, sometimes reserving and shutting off particular sections. Check the CARAruns.org website to check on closures, and be sure to expect plenty of beach goers and tourists as the day wears on during those hot summer months!
The pathway is overall well-maintained (some cracks in the sidewalks, etc), but during the winter you will be dealing with closures to the north of Navy Pier, where the path is along the seawall, as well as anywhere else deemed to be unsafe. Otherwise, the city works hard to make sure that the path is salted and cleared. Generally, lighting is provided by the sun and by street lamps, but there are dedicated lights as well.
To make a long story short, if you make a trip to Chicago, the Lakefront Trail is a convenient, popular, well-maintained option for a great workout. It’s a must do!