Destination Run: Chicago’s 606

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Chicago Running 606 Trail Destination Run: Chicago’s 606 www.runnerclick.com

Home to the famous marathon, Chicago has no shortage of scenic running routes. If you have already skirted the city on the beautiful Lakefront Trail and dipped under the busy Loop to run along the Riverwalk, it may be time to venture above the city streets. The Bloomingdale Trail, commonly referred to by its zip code prefix, 606, is a former rail line that was recently converted to a multi-use recreational trail and park. As part of Chicago’s “L” (elevated) train system, the abandoned Bloomingdale line rises above the west neighborhoods helping you escape traffic and take it great city views.

Official plans for the park began in 2004 as a way to increase much needed active open space in Chicago’s west neighborhoods. Spanning 2.7 miles, the park offers a green space and alternative transportation corridor for residents of Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Bucktown and Wicker Park. Plans are currently being discussed to expand further east potentially all the way to the lake. For now, venturing over to the 606 provides an opportunity to enjoy the many local restaurants, coffee shops, and stores that characterize these diverse neighborhoods.

Upon ascending one of the many access ramps to the trail, you will find a wide and smooth cement pathway with a softer, narrower path along each shoulder. The trail is very well-lit and clearly marked every tenth of a mile in each direction. The 606 features many native plants and art installations leaving you with no shortage of things to look at as you cover the 2.7 miles. It is surrounded by multiple dog parks and is a great place for a jog with your furry friend. There are no public bathrooms on the trail but there are frequent water fountains, benches and bike repair stations throughout.

Getting There

The 606 rises above Bloomingdale Avenue between 1600 W Ashland and 3750 W Ridgeway. With 12 access points and 17 access ramps, you have plenty of options when deciding where to hop on and off the trail.

Biking or public transit is probably the best way to reach this green space as there is no designated parking for the trail. You can find metered and street parking in the surrounding neighborhoods but you will need to read permit signs carefully to avoid ticketing or towing.

The trail is most easily accessed through the CTA (or “L”) Blue Line Trains. The Western and Damen stops are the closest to the trail but you can also ride over to Logan Square to check out Chicago’s historic boulevard system and add a mile to your route.

If you are commuting in from the suburbs, the trail is 2 blocks from Clybourne on the Metra’s Union Pacific North and Northwest Lines and about a mile from the Healy stop on the Milwaukee District North Line.

The path does accommodate bikers and many do take advantage of the ultra smooth cement trail. If you are a visitor in the city or just looking for a Sunday morning activity, consider renting one of Chicago’s Divvy bikes to make your way over to the trail. Biking is a great way to see the unique neighborhoods surrounding the trail and you will find plenty of local businesses to explore.

Weather

The Windy City has highly variable seasons with bitterly cold winters, frequently dropping below freezing and hot and humid summers. These extreme temperatures are not ideal during winter and summer months but that  doesn’t stop Chicago runners from getting outside as much as possible. If you are planning to join them, make sure you are well prepared by bundling up in appropriate layers and staying hydrated year round. Keep in mind the 606 is elevated and has little protection from the elements. The low walls will not provide many barriers from the wind and there is little shade to be found in the middle of the day. Fortunately, the 606 runs above bustling neighborhoods and has plenty of access points so you can seek shelter inside if needed.

When to Go

If you are planning a trip to Chicago, most would recommend September and October and April through June to enjoy the most moderate temperatures of the year. However, there is plenty to enjoy all year round as long as you dress appropriately and plan ahead.

Residents considering the best hours to run may do best to avoiding peak commute times as their is heavier bike traffic during those time. The trail has more traffic on weekends and after regular working hours but the wide path can comfortably accommodate many bikers, runners and strollers.

Safety

Although the trail is very well lit and generally safe, there have been a few robberies since its opening in 2015. Like all Chicago parks, the 606 closes at 11 pm but it may be best to be off the trail by 10:30 as this is when most incidents occurred.

Sources

  1. The Trust For Public Trust, The 606, Website, Jun 20, 2018
  2. Bruce, Nicole, Chicago's Most Beautiful Runs Will Make You Actually Want To Work Out, Web Article, Jan 01, 1970
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