Exploring an Abandoned Rail Trail in Chicago

Note: This post was written in 2013 about an abandoned rail trail in Chicago called the Bloomingdale Trail. Since this article was written, the trail was fixed up by the city and is now known as the 606 Trail. This article describes what the trail was like before it became the 606.

chicago bloomingdale trail

Summary: Abandoned elevated train line turned gritty urban park
Neighborhood
: Humboldt Park / Wicker Park / Bucktown
Address: 1600-3000 W. Bloomingdale
Cost: None
Website: www.bloomingdaletrail.org
Best for: Urban explorers, active individuals, visitors who want to “live like the locals”

The Bloomingdale Trail was an abandoned rail line on the city’s northwest side.

Unlike the High Line in New York City, which has been completely restored and designed for public use, the Bloomingdale Trail has not seen a single dollar in renovation.

In fact, it’s technically illegal to even go up there, but that law is not enforced, since the police have better things to do.

Signs tell visitors they’re not supposed to go up there. But people do all the time, to the point that there are 36 Yelp reviews of the trail, and I’ve never heard of anyone getting in trouble for going up there.

On a nice day, you’ll see lots of runners and folks walking their dogs, trying their hardest to avoid the broken glass and random holes in the ground that you’d expect to find on untouched land.

The good news is that the city has finally realized how much potential the Bloomingdale Trail possesses, and they’re in the early stages of fixing up the old rail line into a proper walking and biking path.

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Once you get up there, you’ll have easy access to views of the Chicago skyline, neighborhoods like Wicker Park and Humboldt Park, and some of the city’s most interesting street art.

The path, much like the city it resides in, is a little rough around the edges but has a lot of character and charm. It’s not paved, so watch your step.

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You may even see occasional evidence of a former or current homeless encampment.

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The sights include up-close views of the blue line train, neighborhood apartments, and the streets of Humboldt Park.

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This was one of my favorite spots to take a long walk in Chicago, before the trail became the 606 Trail.

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