Trail Running: Illinois and Michigan Canal Trail

Illinois and Michigan Canal Trail Lemont

The Illinois and Michigan Canal (I and M) trail is a 96-mile along the Des Plaines and Illinois rivers. Along its banks are numerous state parks, restored historical sites, and abundance of wildlife and distinctive landscapes, ranging from bluffs to rolling hills. During construction of the I and M Canal, an exceptionally fine grade of dolomite limestone was discovered in Lemont which was mined from 1850 to 1900. After the quarry industry declined, underground springs filled the depressions, creating several fresh water lakes now referred to as the Heritage Quarries.

Laima and I recently ran the section of the Trail that runs from downtown Lemont, Illinois, then in and around the Heritage Quarries site. For the most part, the trail is either crushed gravel, dirt, or broken-down asphalt. Sections of the trail are open to motorized traffic, which probably consists mostly of fishermen heading to the quarries or hikers and runners like us.

Illinois and Michigan Canal Trail Lemont

This is an easy section of trail to get to, has amenities at the Lemont end, plus several porta-potties along the way. Basically, it’s an out and back route, with several loops to keep things interesting. We ended up running around 5.5 miles, which is just about the most you could get out of it, though creative route planning could add some distance yet.

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