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The Illinois Prairie Path

The Illinois Prairie Path, Northeast Illinois. The FIRST Rails to Trails Conversion...

Connecting to the IPP (Elgin Branch) from the Fox River Trail

One of the long bridges along the Illinois Prairie Path

The "Steps" to the tracks along the IPP.

The Illinois Prairie Path (Illinois - 61m) is the first U.S. rails to trails bike trail (OK, multiple use trail...), the longest in northeast Illinois (when you include all of the branches) and possibly the most confusing because of it's name (Prairie) and various branches or sections.

Illinois has a lot of "prairies" and, unfortunately, a lot of "Prairie Paths" and "Prairie Trails"! The "Illinois Prairie Path" (described here) is actually quite historic in that it was the first rails to trails conversions in the U.S.! This trail was developed from the Chicago, Aurora and Elgin (CA&E) rail line and goes from Maywood to Wheaton and then has branches to Elgin, Aurora, Geneva and Batavia.

IPP History and Map and connecting trails:

The Illinois Prairie Path emblem that you see all along the trail has meaningful symbols related to the paths history and uses. The IPP.org website is a great resource on the history of this path and also has a very good map of the path (Due to the format of that website I can't link directly to the map but it is easy to find on the website).

There is also some information on May Watts, who in 1963 (at the age of 70) wrote a letter to the editor of the Chicago Tribune which started the rails to trails conversions in the U.S!

You can also get a free hard copy bike map of Northeastern Illinois, including the IPP, at the IDOT link found at the  FREE Bike Trail Maps Resource page.

The IPP also connects to the Fox River Bike Trail in four locations (west end), the Great Western Trail in Dupage County (and indirectly (via the FRT and other bike trails to the Great Western Trail (in Kane county) ) and to the Des Plaines River Trail (east end). These are just some of the bigger trails that connect to the IPP. There are also a number of smaller connecting trails.

Through one of the tunnels along the IPP

A nice open "Prairie" path...

The switchback at the end of the IPP, Geneva Spur
Prairie Paths of Illinois

OK, I want to clarify the "Prairie" bike trails in this part of Illinois and listed on the about-bicycles website.

> This page is about the "Illinois Prairie Path" (Maywood to Wheaton to Elgin, Aurora, Batavia and Geneva).
> The "Prairie Trail" is the Mchenry county trail that connects to the north end of Fox River Trail and continues north to the Wisconsin border.
> The "Long Prairie Bike Trail" is a paved bike path (in Boone county) that goes from just east of Capron, Il. to Roland Olson Forest Preserve just west of Caledonia, Il.
> There is also a "Pecatonica Prairie Path" (which I have not been on (yet)) just west of Rockford.

The Illinois Prairie Path Photo Tour

The photo tour for the IPP trail currently includes the Elgin Branch and the Geneva Spur. These photos are from a trip that I took with a friend in September 2007. I have been on a few other parts of the Illinois Prairie Path but I have not ridden the entire trail (yet). I have this on my list and will try to bring my trusty camera with me for photos of the rest of the trail as soon as possible (so many trails... so little time...) Or maybe one of the other contributors to this site will send me the photos and descriptions for the rest of the trail.

What I like about this trail is that it is a nice east west bike trail that covers a lot of miles!!! There is also a lot of nice scenery along the IPP. The parts of the trail that I have been on are mostly crushed limestone. I was not real crazy about most of the Geneva spur because many places cross busy roads and go parallel a lot of other roads (some busy, some residential).

Illinois Prairie Path Photos

Illinois Prairie Path  < You are here

Here's the Illinois Prairie Path Photo tour on the Elgin Branch (from the Fox River Trail) to the Geneva Spur (just past Prince Crossing Road) back to the Fox River Trail at Geneva - September 2007.

Illinois Prairie Path Photos 1 - Fox River Trail Intersection
Illinois Prairie Path Photos 2 - Pratt Wayne Woods FP
Illinois Prairie Path Photos 3 - Elgin Branch to Army Trail Road
Illinois Prairie Path Photos 4 - Railroad Track Crossing
Illinois Prairie Path Photos 5 - Bridges and Tunnels
Illinois Prairie Path Photos 6 - Prince Crossing Road
Illinois Prairie Path Photos 7 - Elgin Branch and Geneva Spur
Illinois Prairie Path Photos 8 - Geneva Spur to West Chicago
Illinois Prairie Path Photos 9 - Geneva Spur to Fox River Trail

See the Fox River Bike Trail South pages to continue from the end of this article (Photos 9, where the IPP meets the Fox River Trail, in Geneva) on to Dundee and the Fox River Bike Trail North photo tour up to Algonquin and finally to the McHenry County Prairie Trail photo tour all the way to Genoa City Wisconsin!!!