Chicago has this incredible thing called the Lakefront Trail (CLFT). It is an 18 mile paved path that is sandwiched between the Lake Michigan shore and Chicagos iconic Lake Shore Drive (LSD).

The northern entrance of the CLFT is at the eastern end of Ardmore Street (just east of Sheridan Road) in Edgewater. The southern entrance is at 71st Street where South Shore Drive makes its southward turn.

Along the way there are many points to access the CLFT from the communities it passes by. Many of these are simple crosswalks but there are pedestrian bridges or underpasses where LSD is wide or has heavy traffic conditions.

Much of the CLFT has no street crossings as it is right along the shore. However, there are some points such as harbor or park entry areas which do have crossings. In theory at least, pedestrians have the priority at most of these.

Not all of the CLFT is smooth. Some sections are very old and the concrete shows its age. While the entire trail is marked (painted lines on cement), some areas are well worn off. Even so, the trail as a whole is in very usable condition and there are several sections which have very recent improvements.

The CLFT is designed for pedestrian, bicycle, and roller blade usage. All can enjoy the trail better if everybody shows some courtesy to others. There are several bicycle rental places where people can obtain pedal transportation if they choose not to hoof it.

My goal has been to walk the entire CLFT. This page details that goal being fufilled! Although I did it over a three day period, this was partly due to having other agendas during the weekend. It IS possible to walk the entire length, taking 6 hours at an average of 3 miles per hour. Adjust that for your own walking speed, number of rest breaks needed, and if you take any time to take in some of the numerous attractions along the way.

It happens that the weekend I did this was a stormy couple of days. The temperature was awesome (for me), but there were times of drizzle, rain, and gusty winds. While not a big problem for me, my camera did NOT like the less sunlight conditions and I think the picture quality of the photos below suffered a bit. Many pictures were not even usable as so out of focus (camera has auto focus). However, I hope you can enjoy the ones here.

If you are ever in Chicago, try to take in at least part of the CLFT. There ARE many outstanding views and pictures are not as good as being there yourself!

Dates and sections:
  • 9/30/2016
    North Avenue northward to Ardmore
    12 pictures, 2 videos
  • 10/1/2016
    North Avenue southward to Monroe (Loop)
    6 pictures
  • 10/2/2016
    71st/South Shore northward to Monroe (Loop)
    13 pictures
  • 10/2/2016
    Chicago Riverwalk
    1 picture

First day

My first section of walking the entire Lakefront trail started at North Avenue walking north to Ardmore. This is 1/4 of the whole trail, 1/2 of the northern section.

Looking south from North Avenue toward downtown skyline and Navy Pier (left edge). This also shows the very rough waters of Lake Michigan due to the southwest winds running with the storms pushing the water to the shoreline.

I was NOT teasing you! This video shows the waves coming in. This area is somewhat protected by breakwaters to limit the waves and they still came in hard.

Looking south from Fullerton, the south lagoon, Lincoln Park Zoo (far right), and the downtown skyline.

A park just north of Fullerton Avenue. There are many parks along the CLFT. I thought the clouds meeting the water was an interesting effect here.

There are also many sculptures all over Chicagoland. I am unsure what this one is suppossed to be, but like many of them I thought it was just weird looking.

Part of Belmont Harbor, one of many harbors along Lake Michigan.

CLFT hugs LSD for long periods at times. Trail is in foreground, Lake Shore Drive and buildings are beyond the grassy area. Many of the buildings in this area are either apartments or condos.

The Recreation Drive sign got my attention. With LSD and buildings as a backdrop I just had to take a picture.

Every half mile there is a marker like this one showing you the mileage. This tells me it is 15 miles from the start (in this case from the south end). On the other side of the sign it gives the mileage in the other direction. So whichever way you are traveling you can track your progress.

This is Waveland Park. It has softball fields and other amenities. THe building near the center has a clock tower, which is often shown during televised Chicago Cubs games as the camera looks toward Lake Michigan. Wrigley Field is about a mile inland from here.

Another video to prove the waves are high.

The point where LSD turns into Hollywood Avenue.

The marker at the northern entrance (starting point) of the CLFT. This dumps into Ardmore Avenue.

As I was heading for the train to go back downtown, I noticed this artwork under the LSD overpass on Bryn Mawr Avenue. While this is not part of the CLFT, it is just steps away and was a very nice thing to get to experience. Both sides of the overpass were done in tile but the north side was too dark to get a good picture.

Second day

My second section of walking the entire Lakefront trail started at North Ave walking south to Monroe (downtown). This is 1/4 of the whole trail, the lower 1/2 of the northern section.

On the CLFT near Chicago Avenue looking south toward Navy Pier. The new ferris wheel is shown here as well as the water which was just a bit calmer then the day before.

I had lunch at Harry Carays at Navy Pier so I got a chance to get a close up of the new ferris wheel there. I still have not got up the courage to try it though, especially after that meal!

This is looking north from near Randolph Avenue, which is south of the Chicago River. It is another view of Navy Pier but has this nice park as a foreground which is at Monroe Harbor.

A very large ship dwarfs smaller boats at Monroe Harbor.

Looking west/southwest from Monroe Harbor to the Chicago Loop and skyline. Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) is just left of center and partially viewable.

Looking south along the lake shore. In the distance is the Field Musuem and to the far left is the Shedd Aquarium.

Third day

On the third day, I took a train to Hyde Park and walked to 71st Street and South Shore Drive where the Lakefront trail south end begins. From there I walked the 9 miles back to Monroe Street (in the Loop) where I had left off the night before. This is the entire southern section, 1/2 of the total CLFT.

This took me just over 4 hours, which includes several rest breaks and time taking the pictures.

The markers at the south end of the CLFT.

A close up shot of the informational marker with a mini map and trail rules.

Near Jackson Park looking north. Shore, park, and several buildings. Downtown skyline barely visible at far right.

A beach and beachhouse. Most of the beaches close after Labor Day (no lifeguards on duty or concessions).

A glimpse of the Museum Of Science And Industry building and dome. A great place to go but plan on spending the entire day to take most of it in. LSD is in the foreground hugging the CLFT.

One of the pedestrian bridges over LSD providing access to the trail.

Chicago skyline from about 4.5 miles south.

Sculpture titled Man looking up. Whatever.

Closer to downtown with a tree turning to colorful stage. Willis Tower in background.

Still south of downtown. McCormick Place, another harbor, Crown Theatre, and other south loop buildings.

Soldier Field (game was in progress) and skyline including Hancock building.

Looking north from the Shedd Aquarium toward the Loop, North side, and Navy Pier.

From Shedd Aquarium looking west to Loop.


The Riverwalk connects to the CLFT at the south side where the Chicago River meets Lake Michigan (just south of Navy Pier). It is about 1 mile of paved path along the Chicago River with areas of seating and several concession stands. It gets VERY crowded around lunch time on weekdays as the skyscraper occupants spill out into the outdoor.

While not a part of the CLFT, the Riverwalk is kind of an extension of it. I include it on this page because it relates.

A portion of the Riverwalk along the south shore of the Chicago River. Picture taken from the north shore at LaSalle.

Page last updated: October 06 2016 19:03:28.
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