Explore Dan Ryan Woods and the Major Taylor Trail

Dan Ryan Woods, one of the Forest Preserves of Cook County’s most popular sites, is home to numerous amenities and attractions. This 257-acre preserve has long offered visitors a scenic location to gather with family and friends while being surround by nature. The site offers year-round recreational opportunities including playfields, a 1.5-mile paved loop trail, 16 picnic groves, a 120-guest pavilion, and a system of historic aqueducts at Dan Ryan Woods South.


During winter, visitors can enjoy sledding at Dan Ryan Woods East where there is a hill reaching 660 feet above sea level. It is one of the tallest points within Chicago, and offers visitors a view of the Chicago loop.


Dan Ryan Woods visitors can purchase permits between Memorial Day and Labor Day at the new visitor center, as well as enjoy bike rentals between mid-April and October.


The Major Taylor Trail


Dan Ryan Woods is also home to the start of the Major Taylor Trail, a 7.6-mile multi-use trail that ends at Whistler Woods in Riverdale. The trail includes paved segments, off-street paved segments managed by the Chicago Park District, and on-street segments.


The Major Taylor Trail is named for Marshall “Major” Taylor, who was an African-American bicycle racer and civil rights advocate. Taylor, born in Indianapolis in 1878, began building his skills as a cyclist at a young age while delivering newspapers and later performing bicycle tricks at a local bike shop. While Taylor performed the bicycle tricks, he wore a soldier’s uniform, which resulted in his nickname “Major.”


In addition to being a skilled performer, Major Taylor proved to be a dominant racer, as well. According to Andrew Ritchie’s “Major Taylor: The Extraordinary Career of a Champion Bicycle Racer,” Taylor was one of the first African-American athletes to become a world champion in any sport. He was known for many years as the fastest bicycle rider in the world.


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Visit two of the treasures of the Forest Preserves of Cook County