Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Tue June 28 2016

Opinion Home | Far-Sighted Field Notes

  • Rosalind Cummings-Yeates | June 28, 2016 11:00 PM ET

    Scenic Strolls: Chicago Rolls Out Two Innovative Trails

    Scenic Strolls: Chicago Rolls Out Two Innovative Trails

    Photo by Adam Alexander, courtesy of The Trust for Public Land.

    The Windy City may be the home of deep dish pizza and outsized Italian beef sandwiches, but now this foodie haven offers a couple of new ways to burn off those inevitable calories. The elevated The 606 and the Burnham Wildlife Corridor combine history, culture and nature to create unique walking, running and biking spaces that wind through some of Chicago’s most popular neighborhoods. Both trails are attracting crowds of visitors, including fitness fans and more leisurely admirers, designating them as the city’s newest landmarks.

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    Running through the converted Bloomingdale Line elevated tracks, The 606 trail boasts 37 bridges, 1,400 trees and 200 different plant species. The history of the space dates back to the Great Chicago Fire period, when thousands of residents were injured at rail crossings during the blaze, so the rail lines were elevated. The embankments created by elevating the lines are the foundations for The 606, also called the Bloomingdale Trail. After decades of disuse, nature reclaimed the space with trees and flowers springing up between tracks and animals roaming freely.

    The Bloomingdale Trail was officially converted into a public space last year, after 10 years in the making, with lots of fanfare. The trail intersects four neighborhoods — Wicker Park, Bucktown, Humboldt Park and Logan Square and the 2.7-mile trail system includes six ground level parks, an event plaza, art installations and educational programming. There are 12 access points to the trail for every quarter mile and a printable map outlines Chicago’s boulevard system which intersects the trail, as well as shops and restaurants along the trail. See some of the best views of the city while roaming the landscaped paths of The 606 and looking down at the neighborhood skylines.

    The Burnham Wildlife Corridor Trail and Gathering Spaces is a new lakefront trail that features local artist and community designed art installations as well as a nature sanctuary and bird and butterfly center. The trail extends from 2600 S. Lake Shore Drive to 4700 and connects the historic neighborhoods of Chinatown, Bronzeville and Pilsen. The corridor’s 100 acres of urban wilderness of prairie, savanna and woodland ecosystems is the largest stretch of natural area along Chicago’s lakefront.

    Photo by Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

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    The five gathering spaces offer resting spots for visitors exploring the lakefront and are located on both the east and west sides of Lake Shore Drive. The gathering spaces are named for the individual art installations and reflect the heritage of each community represented, providing an innovative blend of nature and culture. A map of the corridor shows each gathering space as well as the walking paths and trails.

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Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Far-Sighted Field Notes

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Rosalind Cummings-Yeates is a journalist, author and blogger who specializes in travel and culture topics. She loves guiding readers through the richness of various cultures and discovering the essence of a destination. Her travel and culture blog, Farsighted Fly Girl, offers travel insights through the music, food, art and history of various countries and cultures. Join her on the journey at www.Rosalindcummingsyeates.
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