Spring is well underway in Chicago, which means it's finally time to shed some of that winter weight you packed on during the polar vortex. Running outside is a great, free exercise option, but the Lakefront Trail is usually way too packed and filled with obnoxious people. With that in mind, here are five alternative spots that make for a way more enjoyable run.
North Branch Trail: Named for the North Branch of the Chicago River, the trail is a great respite from the noise of the city. It is located within a forest preserve and boasts an array of scenery and wildlife, including deer who have no fear of human contact. The trail starts at the intersection of Caldwell and Devon on the city's Northwest Side, and runs approximately 17 miles all the way up to the Skokie Lagoons. It is also a connection point to access the Chicago Botanic Garden, Caldwell Woods and the Greenbay Trail.
Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary: Located in Uptown, the bird sanctuary is filled with winding paths in a quiet preserve and houses more than 300 species of birds, some of which are among the rarest in the state. It's a great escape from the bustle, and has some killer views of the skyline. The sanctuary is adjacent to Montrose Beach and Montrose Harbor.
Yukich Fields: A hidden gem just south of the city in Evergreen Park at Kedzie and 87th, Yukich Fields offers not only great scenery, but also has various running tracks, exercise stations, ponds and fountains with some colorful (and not so shy) wildlife.
Palmer Square: A beautiful smaller park between Humboldt and Kedzie in Logan Square, Palmer Square is lined with mansions and other architectural wonders. The untouched, serene park is perfect for a run on a natural trail.
Winnemac Park: Located in Lincoln Square, Winnemac gives you a secluded feel despite being in the middle of a busy neighborhood. It is home to a variety prairie grasses, willow trees, a track and paved paths, and there’s even a nature walk open in the summer. The park stretches from Damen to Leavitt and from Argyle to Foster.