Big Marsh Park turns former industrial site into biking destination

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CHICAGO -- The industrious ambition of Chicago's cycling community now has a new home, tucked away in what used to be an industrial area on the city's Southeast Side.

The Big Marsh Bike Park is 44 acres of runs for all kinds of biking, including BMX, mountain and cyclo-cross. It’s one of the largest parks of its kind in the U.S., and a first for the Midwest.

“This is awesome,” said the Pullman Museum’s David Peterson. “It gives us close hand access to recreation on the south south. So I’m excited for what’s to come.”

The park 116th and Stony Island is huge, both as a biking destination and as a natural getaway within the city.

“A lot of people can go out west, or up to Wisconsin or to Michigan, but that’s not possible for everyone in Chicago,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “This is to make sure that regardless of your background or income you can go and see and enjoy nature.”

The park district hopes to expand the bike park to more than four times the current size over the years, and host the cyclo-cross national championship. For now, the park is getting good reviews from those who know.

“The layout is really nice.  The takeoffs are really smooth, and you can jump it really high and I think it’s one of the best parks around here to ride,” Jake Gaston said.