Midwest Trail: Illinois Prairie Path (Warrenville to Wayne)

New Year’s Day, I decided to get my long run in by utilizing the Illinois Prairie Path (IPP), starting in Warrenville and running to my in-laws’ house in Wayne. Aside from a few road crossings, the entire 15 miles was on a crushed limestone path. Since we had bizarrely warm weather the day before, there was no snow and, except for a few icy patches, the path was frozen but clear. Started out with the wind chill in the low teens and I was probably 1 layer short of comfortable, but will learn from that.

Aurora Spur typical view

The Illinois Prairie Path is a multi-use nature trail for non-motorized public use and it spans approximately 61 miles in Cook, Du Page and Kane Counties in northeastern Illinois. Approximately 40 miles of trails comprise the Du Page County section of the Illinois Prairie Path, which is located in the right-of-way of the former Chicago, Aurora, and Elgin Railway. I started in Warrenville, running along the Aurora Spur, which then becomes the Elgin Spur where the IPP meets the Great Western Trail. Almost 12 miles long, the Great Western Trail is located within the right-of-way of the former Chicago and Great Western Railroad. The trails are surfaced with limestone screenings and average 10 feet in width.

Connector between Aurora and Elgin Spurs is through a commercial area

The Counties that the Path crosses mostly maintain the path. The sections I ran were under the purview of the Du Page Forest Preserves. There are some towns that contribute to its maintenance as well. Around Earth Day, members and volunteers help clear debris along its entire length.

Since the path is mostly flat, straight and smooth, the main appeal is the fact that it runs mostly through  less developed suburbs, farmland, and forest preserves. However, the scenery is not overly varied, as can be seen from the photo of the Elgin Spur, looking much like the photo of the Aurora Spur above (first photo).

Rather than fault its uniformity and consistent scenery, most people celebrate this trail treasure in out backyard – few other urbanized areas can boast a 61 mile trail system that connects to other systems, allowing for an off-road run or ride of almost limitless duration. Well-worth seeking out, with multiple access points relatively near Chicago, consider the IPP when you need to get off the roads for some non-technical trails.

18 thoughts on “Midwest Trail: Illinois Prairie Path (Warrenville to Wayne)

  1. It doesn't look bitter cold and windy?! And I thought you said you had snow? Doesn't look snowy. I bet it was 55 and perfect conditions! 🙂

  2. The trails you run on are amazing. I never would have thought such a big City would have that to offer. It's like a Norman Rockwell painting.

  3. That reminds me a little of the Katy Trail in Missouri. May not be exciting terrain, but it's sure a nice break from the roads. And I think that kind of trail has a quiet beauty of its own.

  4. Ooooo, I love trails like this, where the trees line the sides. It looks spooky! But sorta cold…….hmmmm. And the no hills thing is def up my alley!

  5. Nice to be able to run on trails most the time. Also nice that you don't have to do a big loop and can do a point to point. I seem to run the same circles.

  6. Nice report Kovas. The IPP is 1.5 miles from my home. I tend not to run on it often but do enjoy it when I do. Got a good 21.6 mile run along the IPP Aurora and Batavia branches to the west of Rt 59 and using the Fox River Trail to link them on the far west.

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