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Leaves growing on the side of the trail on The 606 in Chicago. | Bloomingdale Trail | the 606 in early spring.

The 606 in early spring.

A few weeks ago I took a random Monday off from work. I’m actually pretty terrible at taking my vacation days off. I always feel like I need to save them up for big trips that I never end up taking or to get paid out for if I ever find a new job. So I never end up taking those one-off me days, three day weekends, or time off just for the hell of it. It just feels like I’m wasting those vacation days to take them for no reason. You know?

But then, in April, I literally worked the equivalent of two months worth of hours in thirty days, working 10-12 hour days, every day, including every Saturday and every Sunday.

Let’s just say that I really needed a proper day off.

Entrance to the 606 elevated park in Chicago. | Bloomingdale Trail | the 606 in early spring.

Walking the length of The 606 elevated park in Chicago. | Bloomingdale Trail | the 606 in early spring.

I didn’t have any plans for my day off. And a big part of me just wanted to spend the whole day in bed, beg my cats to come cuddle with me, and watch reruns of Top Chef on Hulu.


But, again, that just felt like I was wasting a vacation day, wasting my time. I felt like I had to at least do something if I was going to take a precious vacation day. So I decided to get out of bed, leave my cats at home, turn off the TV, and take a walk on The 606.

Walking the length of The 606 elevated park in Chicago. | Bloomingdale Trail | the 606 in early spring.

Caution tape on a tree. | Bloomingdale Trail | the 606 in early spring.

The 606, otherwise known as The Bloomingdale Trail, is a 2.7 mile long elevated park that runs through four neighborhoods on the north west side of Chicago: Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Bucktown, and Wicker Park.

Technically the elevated park itself is called the The Bloomingdale Trail and the 606 includes that and the six adjacent street-level parks accessible along the way. But I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone actually use the term “The Bloomingdale Trail” so let’s just go with The 606.

Ipenso 606 Mural - The ConAgra Brands Mural on The 606 in Chicago by artist Jeff Zimmermann. | Bloomingdale Trail | the 606 in early spring.

Birds Watching by Jenny Kendler - eyes art on The 606 in Chicago. | Bloomingdale Trail | the 606 in early spring.

Much like The High Line in New York City, The 606 was constructed to take advantage of an no-longer-used train line. In Chicago’s case, the Bloomingdale Line.

The 606 combines access to parks, restaurants, bars, and coffee shops with a trail for walking/running/biking/rollerblading with public artwork with a much-needed sliver of nature. Even if, in the early spring, that nature was still barely blooming.

Flowers on The 606 walking path in Chicago. | Bloomingdale Trail | the 606 in early spring.

Flowers on The 606 walking path in Chicago. | Bloomingdale Trail | the 606 in early spring.

I’m not sure if April is really “early” spring or if it’s technically more like “mid” spring. But it had snowed just a few days earlier and every time it snows in Chicago the season resets itself.

I was just lucky to have picked a day off where it wasn’t set to snow, where the rain, while coming, wasn’t to show up until the afternoon, where the 70-ish degrees were just warm enough in the sun to strip off my sweatshirt.

I did run into a patch of drizzling rain, momentarily, about halfway through the path. But I managed to outwalk it and never meet a downfall.

Tree trunk with eyes on The 606 walking trail. | Bloomingdale Trail | the 606 in early spring.

Flowers on The 606 walking path in Chicago. | Bloomingdale Trail | the 606 in early spring.

The 606 in early spring was still slightly barren. There were patches of flowers just coming into bloom. Or maybe those were just the flowers that withstood the snow.

There were trees with no leaves. And trees with some leaves. And trees with little buds wanting to sprout.

There were patches of bright green grass sharing space with patches of dirt and dead blades.

A fresh smell of manure permeated the air from the truckloads of sod being ushered around the park to landscapers who were preparing to plant.


Flowers on The 606 walking path in Chicago. | Bloomingdale Trail | the 606 in early spring.

The halfway point of The 606 walking trail in Chicago, Illinois. | Bloomingdale Trail | the 606 in early spring.

I walked the entire length of the trail. Twice. 2.7 miles plus 2.7 miles. 5.4 miles in all.

I got on at Damen. Got off at Milwaukee for a coffee at Ipsento 606. Got back on. Walked to the west end at the Ridgeway Trailhead. Turned around. Walked past Damen, where I got on, to the Eastern-most access point at Ashland. And then I turned around again and went back to Damen.

2.7 miles plus 2.7 miles. 5.4 miles in all.

Walking the length of The 606 elevated park in Chicago. | Bloomingdale Trail | the 606 in early spring.

Map of the 606 elevated park in Chicago. | Bloomingdale Trail | the 606 in early spring.

I like taking walks. Crazy, long, ridiculous walks.

On summer Saturdays I often walk from Lincoln Square to Lincoln Park to go to Green City Market and then walk back home along the lake. It’s usually a four or five hour walk and easily 10-12 miles.

For some reason, I’d rather take a five hour walk than spend half an hour on a treadmill.

New Monuments for New Cities artwork on The 606 in Chicago. | Bloomingdale Trail | the 606 in early spring.

Missing Democracy cat poster - part of New Monuments for New Cities artwork on The 606 in Chicago. | Bloomingdale Trail | the 606 in early spring.

But there aren’t many places in Chicago to take a 10 to 12 miles walk. Or a 5.4 mile walk. Or even a 2.7 mile walk. Except on city streets.

So I’ll take nature where I can.

Flowers on The 606 walking path in Chicago. | Bloomingdale Trail | the 606 in early spring.

Flowers on The 606 walking path in Chicago. | Bloomingdale Trail | the 606 in early spring.

I finished my morning walk by 11:30am. The sky was still clear so I walked to Big Star and ate all the tacos and chips and guacamole I could handle, al fresco, until the sky started to get darker and the rain looked imminent.

Bleeding heart flowers on The 606 walking path in Chicago. | Bloomingdale Trail | the 606 in early spring.

Bare trees on the 606 elevated park in Chicago. | Bloomingdale Trail | the 606 in early spring.

And then I went home and spent the the rest of the day in bed, begged my cats to come cuddle with me, and watched reruns of Top Chef on Hulu…

No Rush. No Rush. | Bloomingdale Trail | the 606 in early spring.

 

More photos of The 606 in early spring:

 

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1 Comment
  • Elizabeth
    May 29, 2019 at 12:14 pm

    I had no idea this existed. It sounds like a lovely day!

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