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  © Eric Allix Rogers
Trailhead access point for the Old Plan Road Trail in Cook County, Ill.

Project Information

Map of Trail

Read about the latest breakthrough on a key section of the trail!

Coca-Cola Community Foundation Metropolitan Grants Program

Eric Oberg
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
Midwest Regional Office


Formation of "Friends Group" for Old Plank Road Trail
Years: 2011 to present

This project is part of RTC's Metropolitan Grants Program funded through a donation from The Coca-Cola Foundation. Find out more about other projects.

Cook County, Ill.

Friends of the Old Plank Trail; National Park Service Rivers, Trails Conservation Assistance Program; Openlands

Project Deliverables
Formation of an active friends group in Chicago Heights to promote and advocate for the Old Plank Road Trail, as well as partake in trail improvement projects.

Trail Description
The OPRT is a 22-mile multi-use trail starting at Western Avenue in Park Forest, Ill., and continuing west to Joliet. The trail is managed by the OPRT Management Commission consisting of one representative of each landowner (Forest Preserve District of Will Co., village of Frankfort, Rich Township, village of Matteson and Village of Park Forest). The Illinois Department of Natural Resources owns the former railroad right-of-way (Old Plank Road Trail) east of Western Avenue into Chicago Heights. The funds for construction of the trail extension have been set aside for many years.

This trail forms a significant backbone to the Grand Illinois Trail, a 500-mile trail in northern Illinois. Through Chicago Heights, the trail takes to the roadways because of a one-mile gap in the trail. When this gap is completed the trail will link with a Forest Preserve District of Cook County Trail, Thorn Creek, a route which is currently in phase two of engineering and will eventually connect to the Chicago lakefront. This will also form a new loop trail dubbed the "Southland Century" that uses the Cal-Sag Trail as its northern route to form 100 miles of trail.

Project Description
RTC's support will help form a local citizens group support the trail. The excitement from people who live along the trail's route has prompted them to express interest in not only using the trail but also to ask how to support its development. The "Friends Group" will work on projects along the trail with the support of the Cities Beautification Committee and resident Master Gardener. Key access sites at both ends of the trail, and a section that supports considerable cross traffic, will be designed.

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
The Duke Ellington Building
2121 Ward Ct., NW
5th Floor
Washington, DC 20037