We Asked You - What's So Great About Trails in Illinois?

Posted 10/11/13 by Rhonda Romano in America's Trails, Success Stories

Photo © Jean Mooring

As you may have noticed, October is “all things Illinois” here at RTC – all this month we’re diving into what’s happening around trails, biking and walking in The Prairie State.

So we reached out to our members and supporters who live and work there to get it straight from the source - what’s so great about Illinois?

We expected a response. What we got was an avalanche of praise and passion for trails all over the state. Here are just some of your comments.

Photo © CDOT

“Illinois is the home of the oldest rail to trail conversion in the county - the Illinois Prairie Path. We set the tone for the preservation and rejuvenation of railroad corridors into recreational and active transportation corridors that has spread throughout the country.”

"The city of Decatur has a wonderful trail system. It's a cooperative venture of several governmental units. The linked trails run through urban, border, and forested areas. I am fortunate enough to live on a trail and I love it!"

"Diversity - there are many choices, from urban and suburban to rural trails to choose from that makes living here great. I used to ride the streets in the northern Chicago suburbs, but when I retired I moved downtown on the Lakefront Path. With the Bikes on Trains option I can take the trains to many suburban trails and ride back to Chicago. As time goes on there are more marked lanes in the city, more transportation options to remote areas, and more paths to choose."

“Bike trails in and around Edwardsville continue to improve with interconnectivity that allows for all day rides without back-tracing a single trail.”

"In addition to Tunnel Hill and Rend Lake bike trails, the City of Mt Vernon is also actively creating bike trails. At some point, hopefully the Mt Vernon trails will connect with the Rend Lake trails."

“Lots of efforts from big cities and small towns to get out there and use the trails. Accessibility and trail improvements all over the state are getting better. Route extensions and updated bridges are making things safer. Great usage by the young and the young at heart!”

"The Great River Trail from Port Byron to Rock Island follows the Mississippi with many views of this great river. Wildlife, good places to eat and friendly people make the trail more enjoyable.”

“IDOT's Complete Streets policy allows for 20% local match for ped/bike facilities. This has been a big financial help to communities that support non-motorized travel and want to provide their residents with alternative travel modes.”

“Galena has a nice trail system which winds along the Galena River from downtown Galena to the Mississippi. A new stretch of 2.8 miles will be added soon to it along the muddy Miss. to eventually bring it south to Savanna.”

"Many towns and cities are improving their bike routes. We have routes all around the Chicago area that range from prairie to total tree-lined paths. Des Plaines River Trail, Fox River Trail, Illinois Prairie Path, I and M trails at Starved Rock and other locations going east toward Lake Michigan. Towns like Buffalo Grove have miles of trails linking homes to parks and forest preserves, some of the best trails around."

“Former Bloomington Councilman Hugh Atwood and Normal's Garrett Scott for working to establish our Constitution Trail, 25 plus years ago, despite overwhelming "Not In My Neighborhood" attitudes.”

"We spend six months out of the year traveling the U.S. and there is no state that offers the variety of paths. As a senior citizen, I appreciate the fact that there are trails for every kind of rider and for the most part our trails are in excellent riding conditions. Illinois cares about its bikers."

"In greater Chicago, trails are very heavily used! Illinois continues to build beautiful bridges over busy highways (cf. Lombard and Elk Grove). Illinois has maintained and expanded downstate trails, and connected to the Wisconsin system.”

"The Constitution Trail in Bloomington/Normal serves as a vital link throughout the community. It provides easy access to both downtown Bloomington and Uptown Normal, Illinois State University, both libraries and much retail. I personally use the Constitution Trail literally hundreds of days each year and consider it a safe, economical, ecological friendly and healthy asset for the community."

"Northeastern Illinois, with Chicago and its 270 suburbs, has hundreds of locally elected public officials (mayors, as well as municipal, park district, forest preserve district, and conservation district board members ) who are fully committed to developing off-road trail systems in their communities, have a great history of already having done so, and are chomping at the bit to get more miles built and connected to neighboring communities. Why? Because trails are increasingly popular and heavily used by local residents, and are among the most popular products public officials have provided from local tax dollars."

"The new bike safety lanes in Chicago, and the new bridges on the Great Western Trail in Lombard."

“The bike share program in the city makes it easy for residents to hop on a bike to numerous destinations. Keep up the good work Illinois!”

"Biking along the Fox River, which is about 35 miles west of Chicago, is a lovely ride on a paved converted railroad trail. The path is quite busy during the weekends in the tri-cities of Batavia, Geneva, and St. Charles, but there are wonderful small restaurants in all 3 towns and Kimmer's Ice Cream parlor in St. Charles is a must."

"Lake County Forest Preserve has the best bike trail assembly I have ever seen. They are continually improving it. They have cooperated with other state and community organizations to connect their trails. If only our Congress could find this level of cooperation, many of our current problems would be mended."

"The Madison County Transit trails are amazing. They are well kept, easily accessible and of varying lengths and elevation changes, making them perfect for everyone. The Metrolink trails are becoming just as good in St. Clair County as they begin to build them up and make them more accessible as well."

"I live near the Salt Creek Trailand the natural surroundings are just too good to be true, especially near a suburban environment. I take my grandsons twice a week and they enjoy the sights!"

"Rock Springs Conservation Area is very supportive of its bike trail. We recently received a bike repair kit located at the Conservations District for trail users who need a quick repair. This was donated by a local business. It's a beautiful way to stay healthy, spend quality time with family and friends, enjoy the solitude and the well-being you feel from being in touch with nature."

“Chicago is the best big city in the world because of it green space. You can bike or walk all day with very little exposure to cars! It is an oasis.”

“I love the Tunnel Hill Trail and the Chain of Rocks Bridge over into Missouri.  I also love that Illinois is constantly working on increasing the number and quality of our trails.”

"I use the Springfield trail system. All three trails are very different and offer very different scenery. Living amongst corn/soybean fields, the trails offer combinations of prairie, woodland and lake views.  I specifically love the section of the Wabash/Chatham trail that goes by the lake - a great bird-lovers ride."

"The hundreds of miles of bike trails in Madison and St Clair counties. These well-maintained asphalt trails are completely independent of road traffic, and do a great job of getting travelers between several towns and the college campuses of the area. All buses in the region can carry bikes on their bike racks. Bikes are always accommodated on the Metro and new trails are being built to allow bikers to get non-road access to the Metro stations."

"Great and numerous bike trails all around the Chicago and northern Illinois area. METRA allows bikes during certain times of the day. It's easy to bike around Chicago with CTA's Bike & Ride initiatives. You'll also find bike racks at or outside most CTA 'L' stations... and bikes ride free, with any paying customer!"

"The trails in Madison County have overpasses and underpasses at almost every road crossing making the trails safe for families and everyone to enjoy."

“The City of Wheeling has completed a great east/west link on Dundee road that will solve many safety issues for bikers."

"Our legislature is pro-cycling, along with Gov. Quinn.”

"Fox River Trail is beautiful, if crowded on weekends. It connects to a number of other trails, and the list is growing. Not many states have as bike friendly attitude as Illinois."

"Miles and miles of fantastic rail-trails, starting with the Illinois Prairie Path, the Fox River Trail, the I & M Canal trail, etc., etc. Also, the fact that there are efforts to link the trails to make off-road cycling from one end of the state to the next a reality (Grand Illinois Trail)."

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