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.