Distance: 58 miles one way from Channahon to LaSalle/Peru
Surface: Crushed limestone, flat
Although this article (and photo pages) are primarily about
what is now the I&M "Bike Path" (for many of us), don't underestimate the
significance of of the I&M canal relative U.S. and Chicago history and the development
of Chicago and the entire United States!
The Illinois & Michigan Canal
was completed in 1848 and connected the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River along an
Indian portage route. The canal extended from the Chicago River to the Illinois River
(97-miles) at Peru, Illinois.
The canal transformed Chicago from a
small settlement to a critical transportation hub between the East and the developing
Midwest. The canal was really a key element in making Chicago into the city that it is
today. The towpath, and bike trail along the canal, runs through a rural and wooded
landscape linking a number of towns laid out by the original canal commission.
I didn't realize the historical
importance of the canal until recently, when I read a book on the subject and saw a PBS
special on the I&M canal. Being a native of the Chicago area, I found this to be very
interesting and would recommend that you check out the history behind this "bike
trail" as well as checking out the trail itself... I think the next time I do this
ride, I will have a much deeper appreciation of the canal and trail... (and now back to
the bike path info...)
This is a great
trail for distance riding and is flat and very scenic. You can take breaks (get food
and/or ice cream, etc.) at some of the towns along the trail. We had a fantastic ice cream
break at a place called Tolis Calfe (that's not a typo) in Morris (ice cream cones can be
like nirvana after about 50 miles and little else to eat!)
A couple of practical things to keep in mind for this trail
Much of this trail has the river on one side and/or the
canal on the other and goes through some wet (swampy) areas. If you stop for a break, on
the trail itself, you can get eaten alive by mosquitoes. There can also be swarms of nats
If it is still mosquito season (summer), plan your breaks
in open breezy areas or in one of the towns along the path, wear white clothing and/or
bring mosquito repellent...
There are some pretty long and deserted stretches of bike
path between one town and the next. Be sure that your bike is in good working condition
and bring whatever you need for any potential repairs along the way...
I don't want to scare you off, because this really is a
very nice trail, but I have not seen these things mentioned in other articles on the trail
and I think that you should at least be aware of them (especially for a long ride on this
I&M Canal Bike Trail Photos
Here's the photo tour of the I&M Canal
Trail, from Channahon (going west) to Marseilles (August 2003).
Canal Bike Trail Photos 1
I&M Canal Bike Trail Photos 2
I&M Canal Bike Trail Photos 3
I&M Canal Bike Trail Photos 4
I&M Canal Bike Trail Photos 5
I&M Canal Bike Trail Photos 6
I&M Canal Bike Trail Photos 7
Here are the fall photos of our trip from Marseilles to Split Rock ~ Just before La Salle, Illinois on 10/15/2012.
I&M Canal Trail Fall Photos 8 ~ Marseilles and Ottawa
I&M Canal Trail Fall Photos 9 ~ Locks 11 and 12
I&M Canal Trail Fall Photos 10 ~ East of Utica
I&M Canal Trail Fall Photos 11 ~ Into Utica
I&M Canal Trail Fall Photos 12 ~ Utica to Split Rock
I&M Canal Trail Fall Photos 13 ~ Ghost Bridge
I&M Canal Trail Fall Photos 14 ~ Back to Marsielles
Here's the GPS Map of the ride above.
I hope you enjoy this tour and hope it
inspires you to take the trail(s) in the spring, summer or fall (when it is cool and dry
preferably) and/or provides a nice memory of your trips in the winter when you may not be
able to get out there and enjoy it (as much anyway).
I've kept the format to medium sized and
medium quality photos split into multiple pages to keep the download times reasonable for
all connetions, including dial ups. Most of the photos (with a few exceptions) are
sequential going from Channahon to Marseilles...