Imagine a biking and walking trail, more than a decade in the making, that offers Chicagoans the peace of the rural countryside in the midst of a hectic and bustling city. This is The 606, the highly anticipated new trail that received a welcome 50,000 strong on its opening day in June. Expectations are high – funding came in part from a nationwide initiative to reduce emissions and freeway congestion – and thus far, the trail seems ready and willing to deliver. For bikers in particular, this trail offers much-needed safety and serenity!
Meet The 606
The trail is an architectural feat that rivals (and is already compared to) New York’s High Line; visitors are instantly elevated more than 17 feet above Chicago’s street level. The magnificent views that come with such elevation include glimpses of Chicago’s downtown skyline, beautiful open expanses of blue sky, trees, plenty of local neighborhoods and historic spots.
A big benefit for bikers and walkers alike are the two-feet wide rubberized side shoulders on each side of the main 10-foot trail. Not only do these shoulders ease tension on walkers’ joints and knees that can come from walking on hard concrete, but they keep more of the main trail clear for bikers to navigate through safely.
Another great perk the bike trail offers is an alternative for bike-to-workers, who in the past either had to navigate dangerous and crowded city streets. Elevated above the streets there’s no fear of getting doored by cars or having to deal with stoplights. While the trail itself will undoubtedly be a tourist attraction for visitors, it is designed and intended for locals who need a place to retreat, relax and unwind from the stress of daily life.
Since the trail is one straight shot without any intersections or traffic to slow you down it’s a great spot to train for a triathlon. It’s flat well-maintained surface and lack of congestion make it a great alternative to triathlon training along the lakeshore trail. To read more triathlon training tips check out our recent blog: Training for your First Triathlon
Perhaps the most celebrated aspect of the new bike trail is its focus on offering Chicagoans access to the sounds, sights, smells and sensibilities of nature. No advertisements, loud music, vendors, shopkeepers or other commercial distractions are being permitted along the trail itself. However, there are plans for some lovely natural murals at certain points along the trail, some of which are already in progress or finished.
To plan your ride along The 606 check out the trail’s website for their interactive map. Whether your goal is to bike to work, explore The 606 itself, or see how to use The 606 to bike to some of Chicago’s many historic landmarks, the map comes complete with landmarks, access points and everything you need to enjoy it to the fullest.
The History of The Bloomingdale’s Trail
If you are not a native Chicagoan, you may not know this trail used to be an elevated freight rail line that served Chicago for over a century. Now called The Bloomingdale Trail (after the former Bloomingdale Avenue the freight line tracks covered), The 606 trail is for bikers, walkers, joggers and families only – no cars are allowed.
Perhaps what is most special to Chicagoans is that The 606 is a true partnership of creativity and idea sharing between residents (especially the Friends of Bloomingdale Trail), Chicago’s City Planning and Development Office and the Federal Trust for Public Land nonprofit organization.
If you haven’t had a chance to check the trail out we highly recommend putting it on your list of trails to bike this summer. For other great Chicago biking trails check read: Chicago’s Most Delightful Bike Trails.