After a decade in the making, the 606 Trail finally opened this past weekend. I decided to ride the entire trail during the opening weekend and mount a camera on my bike to document the experience.
The 606 Trail map marks 13 entrance points along its 2.7 mile route. I hopped on the trail at California Avenue just a block and a half south of Armitage. Opting to head West towards Ridgeway, the first thing I noticed is the amount of people on the trail. Perhaps this was due to it being the opening weekend and one of the first warm weekend days in some time, but if you’re on a bike, this isn’t something you simply hop on full steam ahead. Coupled with a long, winding ramp just to get on the trail, you’ll expend a lot of energy getting on it.
The trail itself is wider than a sidewalk, but not nearly as big as a street lane. With a yellow line in the middle and a blue surface lining the edges, there isn’t a ton of room to maneuver and maintain steady speed. Then again, with less people out and about, it could be possible. A mixture of bikers, walkers, joggers, scooters, skateboarders, rollerbladers, and more made up the users of the 606 when I rode it. You see all types of people using the trail, from families enjoying a warm day, to dog-walkers, to exercisers, to bikers taking in the route, and overzealous bikers zipping along.
While the trail itself offers beautiful views with fresh infrastructure, it appears there is still work to be done. I didn’t notice many trash cans or water fountains along the trail itself. It also appears there is plenty of room off the trail to plant foliage and other earthly decorations. That being said, those are only minor notes in the grander scheme of things. I recommend checking out the trail for yourself, especially on a bright, beautiful Chicago day.
5 Tips For Enjoying The 606
1. Bring water – As mentioned above, I didn’t notice many water fountains along the trail. Bring a bottle of water along to make sure you stay hydrated. In case you forget one or run out, hop off at the nearest exit point and visit a local store to pick up a bottle.
2. If you’re biking, treat it as a commuter path – This is especially true in the opening days of the 606. With the temperatures warming up and the excitement surrounding the 606, many people will be out and about using the trail in various ways. For everyones safety, don’t treat it as the Tour de France and try to go as fast as you can. If you view it as a commuter path similar to biking on the street, it’ll be much more manageable. As you can see below, my average speed wasn’t very high (this includes my ride to and from my home, which helped bump up the average and max speed).
3. The trail itself is narrow, be careful when passing – The path itself allots for one lane of space on both sides. Sometimes you’ll get stuck behind a group of people on both sides. Be patient and don’t attempt to blindly pass. The trail isn’t wide enough for people to be zipping around others without looking to see what’s ahead. Have patience!
4. Stop along the way and take in the sights – Numerous stopping points are marked by wider extensions of the trail where individuals can have a rest and take in the sites surrounding them. The trail offers a unique view of Chicago, take advantage of it.
5. Check out what each neighborhood has to offer – Stretching across Wicker Park, Bucktown, Logan Square, and Humboldt Park, be sure to hop off at various points to check out local businesses and the rich cultural attractions each community has to offer.