Best Places to hike in Chicago, Illinois
Chicago is a city of neighborhoods, each with its own distinct personality and flavor. From the trendy shops and restaurants of Wicker Park to the ethnic enclaves of Pilsen and Little Italy, there’s something for everyone in Chicago. While most visitors stick to Downtown and the lakefront area, Chicago has plenty more treasures to offer those who venture further afield.
One such treasure is hiking. Yes, hiking! Believe it or not, there are plenty of great hiking trails in Chicago. You can find trails to suit any level of fitness and experience. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hiker, there’s a trail for you in Chicago. So if you’re looking for something different to do in the city that will get your heart rate up and your feet muddy, consider giving hiking a try!
In this article, we’ll provide a guide to hiking in Chicago. We’ll give you tips on what to wear and bring with you and information on some of the best trails in or near the city. Hiking is a great way to explore Chicago’s hidden gems, so grab your boots and get ready to hit the trail!
6 Best Hiking Trails In or Near Chicago
If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, there are plenty of hiking trails nearby that offer stunning views and a chance to commune with nature. Hiking is a great way to get some exercise, fresh air, and vitamin D, all while enjoying the beauty of your surroundings.
Here are some of the best hiking trails in or near Chicago:
1. The 606 Trail
Length of Trail: 2.7 miles
Location: 1805 N Ridgeway Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
Phone: (312) 742-4622
The 606 Trail is a 2.7-mile long elevated path along an old railroad line on Chicago’s Northwest Side. The trail offers views of the city skyline, as well as plenty of opportunities to people watch. There are also several access points to the trail, making it easy to get to no matter where you’re coming from.
2. Lakefront Trails
Length of Trail: 18 miles
Location: 541 N. Fairbanks Chicago IL, 60611
Phone: (312) 742-7529
Lakefront Trails is an 18-mile-long path that runs along the shoreline of Lake Michigan. The trail is popular with runners, cyclists, and rollerbladers, and offers stunning views of the city skyline. Several beaches along the trail also make it the perfect place to cool off on a hot day.
The Lakefront Trails are a great way to get some fresh air and enjoy the outdoors while being close enough for those who want more convenience. On any given day, you can find people commuting to work, training hard before their next marathon, relaxing during summer vacation, and exploring the city on bikes. The views aren’t too shabby either — on a clear day, you can see the Willis Tower and the city skyline. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a few dolphins swimming in the lake! Whether you’re a local or just visiting, the Lakefront Trails are worth checking out.
The path is well-maintained and easy to follow, making it ideal for beginners. However, it can get crowded on weekends, so start early to avoid crowds.
3. LaBagh Woods
Length of Trail: 20 miles
Location: West Foster Avenue, N Cicero Ave, Chicago, IL 60630
Phone: (800) 870-3666
LaBagh Woods is a forest preserve on the Northwest Side of Chicago that offers 20 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. The preserve is also great for picnics, bird watching, and nature photography. Restrooms and water fountains are available, as well as a playground and picnic shelter.
LaBagh Woods is a hidden gem for nature lovers. The diverse natural areas include wooded landscapes, wetlands, and savannas at the southern start of the North Branch Trail. LaBagh Woods is a great place for birdwatching because of the rich habitats found there. The wooded landscapes provide shelter and food for many animals, including rare birds. The wetlands are full of life and provide a place for birds to feed and drink, while the savannas are open and offer a place for them to find a mate. LaBagh Woods is a great place to see rare birds because it has all the habitats they need to survive.
4. Forest Glen Woods
Length of Trail: 13 miles
Location: 5420 N Forest Glen Ave, Chicago, IL 60630
Phone: (800) 870-3666
Forest Glen Woods is a preserve on the Northwest Side of Chicago that offers 13 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. The preserve is also great for bird watching and nature photography. Restrooms and water fountains are also available, as well as a playground and picnic shelter.
Hiking through the forest Glen Woods is a peaceful experience. The woods are full of tall trees and quiet trails. There are also plenty of opportunities to see wildlife, and to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and connect with nature.
5. Schiller Woods
Length of Trail: 3.7 miles
Location: N Cook County, Chicago, IL 60634
Phone: (800) 870-3666
Schiller Woods is a nature lover’s paradise. The woods are home to many kinds of animals, including squirrels, birds, and deer. The wide open spaces make it easy for visitors who want more than just a few minutes of peace outside with their family or friends — they’re guaranteed an adventure no matter what activity you choose! Hiking, bird watching, picnicking, and fishing are just a few of the activities that visitors can enjoy.
In addition to the woods, Schiller Park has a sedge meadow, a wetland habitat home to many different plants and animals. Visitors can learn about the different ecosystems in the park and how they interact with each other. The park is also a great place to take in some fresh air and enjoy the beauty of nature.
6. Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie
Length of Trail: 22 miles
Location: IL-53, Wilmington, IL 60481
Phone: (815) 423-6370
Hiking near Chicago doesn’t have to mean venturing far out of the city. There are plenty of great trails located right within the city limits. If you’re looking for a challenge, try hiking the 22-mile Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie trail. This free trail is perfect for those who want to experience some of Illinois’s best nature.
The Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is a unique and beautiful landscape. Located in Illinois, it plays a part in the reintroduction of bison. The prairie is home to many different species of plants and animals and natural processes typical for tall grass prairies in this region. The Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is a great place to see wildlife in its natural habitat. Visitors can also experience the prairie’s beauty by hiking, biking, or horseback riding on its many trails. Whether you’re interested in wildlife or simply want to enjoy a peaceful setting, the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is worth a visit.
9 Tips for Hiking in Chicago
Before you lace up your hiking boots and hit the trails, there are a few things you should take into account. Hiking is a great way to get some exercise while enjoying nature, but it’s essential to be prepared before embarking on any hike. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your hiking experience in Chicago.
Tip #1: Have a hiking plan
It’s always a good idea to let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return when embarking on a hike. This is especially important if you’re hiking alone. Stick to well-marked trails, and if possible, hike with a friend.
Tip #2: Prepare your body
It’s essential to prepare your body before you hit the trails. Start by adding cardio to your routine a few weeks before your hike. This will help build up your endurance to avoid getting too winded on the trail.
Tip #3: Eat and drink before you go
Hiking can be strenuous, so it’s essential to have some fuel in your tank before you hit the trails. Eat a light but nutritious meal, and bring plenty of water to stay hydrated.
Tip #4: Wear the proper clothing
Hiking can be a physically-demanding activity, so it’s essential to wear clothes that won’t inhibit your movement. Choose comfortable, loose-fitting clothes made from breathable fabric. You’ll also want to wear layers if the weather changes or you get too sweaty. Don’t forget to wear a sturdy pair of hiking boots or shoes!
Tip #5: Bring the essentials
In addition to clothing, you should bring a few other things on any hike. Make sure to pack water, snacks, and a first-aid kit. A map is also a good idea, especially if you’re hiking in an unfamiliar area. And don’t forget your camera to document the beautiful scenery!
Tip #6: Choose the right trail
Not all hiking trails are created equal. When choosing a trail, take into account your fitness level and experience. If you’re a beginner, look for short and relatively flat trails. For more experienced hikers, longer and more challenging trails are available. Whichever trail you choose, make sure you’re familiar with the terrain before setting out.
Tip #7: Keep an eye on the weather
The weather can change quickly when you’re out on a hike, so it’s essential to be prepared for all conditions. Check the forecast before heading out, and pack rain gear and sunscreen, just in case.
Tip #8: Pace yourself
Hiking is a great way to get some exercise, but it’s important not to push yourself too hard. Start slowly and take breaks as needed. Remember to listen to your body — if you’re feeling tired or sore, it’s time to call it a day.
Tip #9: Always mind your surroundings
Hiking can be a great way to relax and clear your head, but it’s essential to stay aware of your surroundings. Be on the lookout for wildlife, and never approach animals you don’t know. If you’re hiking in an unfamiliar area, stick to well-marked trails.
The Windy City is known for its skyline, deep-dish pizza, and hot dogs. This incredible city in the heart of Illinois also has a lot to offer in terms of nature and outdoor activities. and one of the best ways to experience all that Chicago has to offer is by going on a hike.
Hiking is a great way to get some exercise, connect with nature, explore all the different areas of the city, and spend time with family or friends. Chicago has many trails, ranging from easy to difficult, so there’s something for all skill levels. Best of all, most of these trails are free to hike. From the 606 Trail to Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, there are plenty of places to explore located in the city or just a short drive away.
However, you cannot go out on a hike without being prepared. Wear comfortable shoes, and bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and a hat. If you’re hiking with kids, be sure to pack snacks and a first-aid kit. Remember, safety comes first. As long as you take the proper precautions, hiking can be a fun and rewarding experience for all. So, if you’re a local or just visiting the Windy City, check out one of these great trails. Hiking in Chicago is an experience you won’t want to miss!