The picturesque Chicago Lakefront Trail takes walkers, bikers and rollerbladers along the shore of Lake Michigan for 18 miles through busy Chicago from the Edgewater neighborhood to South Shore. The nearly flat, paved surface meanders beside gardens and grassy knolls as it winds along the eastern edge of the city, and is pawfect for every level of hiker and their dogs.
For the most part, the trail parallels Lake Shore Drive, so there are plenty of access points along the way. While you can plan an adventure for a stretch of the trail near you, if you plan on trekking the entire span of this furbulous trail, you'll find the northern trailhead near the intersection of West Ardmore Avenue and North Sheridan Avenue, where parking is available on the street. The trail stretches all the way to its southern trailhead between the South Shore Golf Course and East 71st Street where it merges with South Shore Drive.
Whether you start from the north or south, you'll enjoy puptastic views of Lake Michigan, as well as the many parks, beaches and other attractions along the way. These include several off-leash dog parks where you can stop and let your pup romp free for a bit before moving on, such as the Puptown Dog Park, Lakeshore East Dog Park, Grant Bark Park near the Navy Pier's restaurants, shops and amusements, and Jackson Bark by Promontory Point, a spot at the end of a small peninsula that features pawsome views of the city skyline. Or if you have a beach pup, plan your hike for a break at Montrose Dog Beach or Belmont Harbor Dog Beach.
There's plenty of restrooms and water fountains along the Chicago Lakefront Trail, so be sure to bring water bottles to refill. And with lots of concession stands, picnic tables, benches and grassy spots to stop and rest, a stroll or run is highly customizable for every kind of hiker. The trail passes many cross-streets, and there are paths for venturing deeper into the city to explore for urban walkers.
No matter which part of the Lakefront Trail you traverse, be sure to keep your pup leashed at all times. While you can take off the leash when inside fenced-in dog parks, you'll need to keep it on while visiting dog beaches and community parks, as well as throughout the city. Always have clean-up bags on hand, and promptly pick up after your adventure pup.
Whichever part of the Lakefront Trail you choose to travel with your fur-baby, you're sure to have a barking good time!
The downtown sections of this trail require a little extra caution to avoid mishaps at traffic intersections or with other trail users.