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Hi Steve, I'm planning a bike trip on the I&M Canal Trail in October. What is the status of the trail between Buffalo Rock State Park and Utica? IDNR has no current information on their site and a search only revealed an article about the flooding in the area this past April. Thanks!

Hi, davery5555. Unfortunately, that trip would be high adventure, but maybe that’s what you’re after?

I just ran down current conditions for the trail: it blew up in the rain storms of April and May, and most of the damage remains. The big obstacle is a culvert collapse near Marseilles, which took out a road and a trail which makes bypassing it difficult. Repair could be complete by mid-October, but it’s hard to plan trips around “could.” Buffalo Rock to Utica is closed indefinitely by washouts, while Utica to LaSalle repairs should wrap up in the next couple of weeks.

The story of wash outs on the I&M has been told way too often the last four years or so. The quieter part of the story is that people still use it and find ways around, but no way can I recommend that, and I can’t imagine wanting to hang a planned trip on the possibility of being able to get through.

Are you on Facebook? Find the Starved Rock Cycling Association’s page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Starved-Rock-Cycling-Association/122845407820771) and post a question about I&M Canal detours. They ride tons in that area, and are likely to give you some good advice. Let them know I sent you.

Regards,

Steve Buchtel

The photos are from a trip I took last week to southern Illinois. I was invited down to Shawnee Community College in Pulaski County to provide some input to Pulaski County commissioners and trail advocates on extending Tunnel Hill State Trail three miles southwest from Karnak to Grand Chain (and, eventually, past Mounds City and across the levees to Cairo).

Pulaski County had received Illinois Enhancements money to build their shovel-ready project, but was counting on Norfolk Southern Railroad to donate the abandoned right-of-way as a component of Enhancements’ required 20% local match. Norfolk Southern says that’s not happening, and wants $62,000 for it.

Pulaski County wants to find a way to move forward, and asked if I’d come down along with IDNR’s Amy Madigan to talk to the commissioners and advocates about Making Trails Count in Illinois, and what the economic impact of trails could mean for Pulaski County. I love sharing Making Trails Count, and was happy to hop on a southbound Amtrak.

It’s stark how costs differ across the state: the Cal-Sag Trail in Chicago’s south suburbs will be $20-24 million for 26 miles; the 606/Bloomingdale Trail in Chicago is $90 million for 2.5 miles. Pulaski County is trying to match 20% of $515,000 to build three miles. Pocket change for NE Illinois, but a huge challenge for a county of just 6000 people.

I suggested that U.S. Congressman Bill Enyart and Senators Durbin & Kirk might be effective negotiators with Norfolk Southern, whose business like other railroads benefits from huge outlays of public money for reorganizing rail traffic in the Chicago area, and for upgrading their diesels with cleaner burning technology. My advice was to push for the donation—that’s what makes their Enhancements grant work. And also to think and speak of the extension not as a 3-mile, $515,000 trail, but as a 50-mile trail connection for Grand Chain and Pulaski County.

I stayed with Trails for Illinois supporters Jonathan and Sharon Voelz and their dog Radar in Vienna, home to the Standard Oil gas station that one day I will buy and turn into a bike shop/gelato place, leaving the glamor of trail advocacy behind. Jonathan and Sharon took me to Our Place deli/grocery store in Karnak, a favorite Tunnel Hill Trail and TransAmerica stop, and also to Giant City State Park—simply amazing.

A note about breakfast at Mary Lou’s in Carbondale: biscuits & gravy come on the side with EVERYTHING, on the house. Take the biscuits & gravy.

Last I&M Canal Trail Bike & Dine in Lockport for the season! One last opportunity to enjoy riding a historic trail, to dine & drink along the way with friends, and to help Mainstreet Lockport improve the wayfinding signs & information along its section of trail—all at once!
Get started!

Last I&M Canal Trail Bike & Dine in Lockport for the season! One last opportunity to enjoy riding a historic trail, to dine & drink along the way with friends, and to help Mainstreet Lockport improve the wayfinding signs & information along its section of trail—all at once!

Get started!

Southern Illinois, you’ve been TrailLinked!

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We received a check-in this morning from Trails for Illinois supporters Gary & Judy Wilhelm, who are mission-bound to document every Illinois trail for our trail counting partner Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s TrailLink.com.

Gary writes:

Steve, 

As promised, here’s what may be the final update on our list of all the completed new trail listings we’ve done this year for TrailLink.  With these completed new listings, we now have on TrailLink ALL the qualified trails I can find in the state, from Peoria south.


The trails the Wilhelms have ridden and plotted with GPS this year (Gary’s comments in itallics):

Champaign County

Lake of the Woods Path (Mahomet)
http://www.traillink.com/trail/lake-of-the-woods-path.aspx 
Hidden gem of a country trail.

Greenbelt Bikeway (Champaign)
http://www.traillink.com/trail/greenbelt-bikeway.aspx 

Village of Rantoul Trail
http://www.traillink.com/trail/village-of-rantoul-trail.aspx
Great new rail-trail and ride through the old Chanute AFB.

Springfield 

Bunn to Lost Bridge Trail 
http://www.traillink.com/trail/bunn-to-lost-bridge-trail.aspx

MetroEast 

Richland Creek Bikeway Trail (Belleville) http://www.traillink.com/trail/richland-creek-bikeway-trail.aspx

McKinley Bridge Bikeway
http://www.traillink.com/viewtrail.aspx?tr=mckinley-bridge-bikeway
Awesome!

Hesse Trail (O’Fallon)
http://www.traillink.com/trail/hesse-trail.aspx

Eagle Points Trail
http://www.traillink.com/trail/eagle-points-trail.aspx
Great history unfurled in my lifetime!

Southern Illinois

Metropolis
George Rogers Clark Discovery Trail
http://www.traillink.com/trail/george-rogers-clark-discovery-trail.aspx
Excellent R-T and taste of Ohio River history.

Eldorado
Eldorado Bicycle and Walking Path
http://www.traillink.com/trail/eldorado-bicycle-and-walking-path.aspx
You’re going to love this ‘linear park’!

Equality
Equality to Glen O. Jones Lake Bike Trail
http://www.traillink.com/trail/equality-to-glen-o-jones-lake-bike-trail.aspx

Carlyle
Carlyle Lake Bike Trail
http://www.traillink.com/trail/carlyle-lake-bike-trail.aspx

You can see all the trails the Wilhelms have plotted on their TrailLink.com profile.

Photo: Chicago Tribune archiveOn its 50th Anniversary, the Chicago Lakefront Trail gets a starring role in USA Today’s Best Urban Trails feature. I think it’s worth a little more commentary on the role it has played in Chicago’s bicycling transformation.You can thank President Eisenhower’s heart attack in 1955 and the advocacy of his cardiologist, Paul Dudley White, for convincing a nation that outdoor physical activity was good for it. In his day, Dr. White was the preeminent cardiologist in the world and a staunch advocate of preventative medicine. White’s rise in popularity after being selected as the president’s heart specialist fueled his promotion of walking, running and cycling, creating an outdoor fitness boom at a time when cycling in the cities was a derided fringe activity.One mayor, Richard J. Daley, particularly took Dr. White’s message to heart (sorry), and established an interconnected lakefront path in 1963 for the good of his residents. That’s Richard J. above taking Paul Dudley White for a ride. (I’m guessing zero debate regarding who was going to captain.)By 1970, the Tribune reported that the cycling population of Chicago had swelled to 1.2 million. Gas was at historic lows. No one had heard of OPEC yet. Chicago’s first bike lanes, on Clark and Dearborn in the loop, were three years away.I (Steve) would contend that the Lakefront Trail has fueled the cycling and active living movement in Chicago ever since. We have watched this happen on other trails that connect towns and cities: a trail is developed. Residents want to ride and walk to the trail. Businesses want people to ride and walk from the trail. Improved bike routes and sidewalk connections develop. Life improves. This is the story of the Lakefront Trail and the City of Chicago, and the story of the developing Cal-Sag Trail and its 9 communities, Springfield and the Inter-Urban Trail, Bloomington-Normal’s Constitution Trail, Lansing’s Pennsy Greenway, Peoria and the Rock Island State Trail, Quad Cities and the Great River Trail, etc.I’m asked a lot about the tension between urban cycling advocates and trail advocates. It’s imagined like this: Urban cycling is social transformation, a reprioritization of street space that disrupts the hegemony of automobiles to make space for more sustainable and healthier transportation. Trails support the status quo, perpetuating a separation of modes that promotes automobile dominance on the street.The reality is that trails’ broad appeal can create desire in a community for more connections, instead of a pushback against societal change. Chicago and dozens of other Illinois trail towns are masterfully leveraging their trail connections to improve streets, connect sidewalks, and build out the infrastructure and services that are making their towns healthier and more desirable places to live and work.For 50 years, the Chicago Lakefront Trail has fueled a desire for a more walkable, bikeable, livable city. Congratulations to the City of Chicago and the Lakefront Trail. 

Photo: Chicago Tribune archive


On its 50th Anniversary, the Chicago Lakefront Trail gets a starring role in USA Today’s Best Urban Trails feature. I think it’s worth a little more commentary on the role it has played in Chicago’s bicycling transformation.

You can thank President Eisenhower’s heart attack in 1955 and the advocacy of his cardiologist, Paul Dudley White, for convincing a nation that outdoor physical activity was good for it. In his day, Dr. White was the preeminent cardiologist in the world and a staunch advocate of preventative medicine. White’s rise in popularity after being selected as the president’s heart specialist fueled his promotion of walking, running and cycling, creating an outdoor fitness boom at a time when cycling in the cities was a derided fringe activity.

One mayor, Richard J. Daley, particularly took Dr. White’s message to heart (sorry), and established an interconnected lakefront path in 1963 for the good of his residents. That’s Richard J. above taking Paul Dudley White for a ride. (I’m guessing zero debate regarding who was going to captain.)

By 1970, the Tribune reported that the cycling population of Chicago had swelled to 1.2 million. Gas was at historic lows. No one had heard of OPEC yet. Chicago’s first bike lanes, on Clark and Dearborn in the loop, were three years away.

I (Steve) would contend that the Lakefront Trail has fueled the cycling and active living movement in Chicago ever since. We have watched this happen on other trails that connect towns and cities: a trail is developed. Residents want to ride and walk to the trail. Businesses want people to ride and walk from the trail. Improved bike routes and sidewalk connections develop. Life improves. This is the story of the Lakefront Trail and the City of Chicago, and the story of the developing Cal-Sag Trail and its 9 communities, Springfield and the Inter-Urban Trail, Bloomington-Normal’s Constitution Trail, Lansing’s Pennsy Greenway, Peoria and the Rock Island State Trail, Quad Cities and the Great River Trail, etc.

I’m asked a lot about the tension between urban cycling advocates and trail advocates. It’s imagined like this: Urban cycling is social transformation, a reprioritization of street space that disrupts the hegemony of automobiles to make space for more sustainable and healthier transportation. Trails support the status quo, perpetuating a separation of modes that promotes automobile dominance on the street.

The reality is that trails’ broad appeal can create desire in a community for more connections, instead of a pushback against societal change. Chicago and dozens of other Illinois trail towns are masterfully leveraging their trail connections to improve streets, connect sidewalks, and build out the infrastructure and services that are making their towns healthier and more desirable places to live and work.

For 50 years, the Chicago Lakefront Trail has fueled a desire for a more walkable, bikeable, livable city. Congratulations to the City of Chicago and the Lakefront Trail. 



Ten pictures from our beautiful little bike camping ride, GITy Up! 2013. More coming soon, after more sleep.

A big warm-hearted hug to Bobby & Martha Mitchell and their beautiful granddaughters and handsome grandsons, Diane Banta, Ginger Siska, Jeanne Bereza, Tony Giron & Valerie Kramer, Rebecca Dill, Mary Meade Cantrell, John Bierman, Terry Witt, Tom Naughton. Bruce Perry, John Gamble, my family Laura Devine and Violet, and the incomparable St. Charles Park District staff who all gave us at least their weekend to support this event.

To Inglenook Pantry, our caterers: wow. Please, dear reader, book them for your event, your wedding, your whatever. They have won the GITy Up! caterer contract for life.

To our sponsors REI, All Spoked Up, Prairie Path Outfitters, Whole Foods–Wheaton, Aurora Area Convention & Visitors Bureau—our riders were so well served by your contributions to GITy Up! You have our gratitude.

Back to bed for me; glad it’s over, and more a believer in Illinois trail-based tourism than ever before. Thank you, everyone.  

Registration is open for Bike & Dine, Lockport! - Sweet Taste of Summer. It’s the second I&M Canal Trail event in Main Street Lockport’s & Trails for Illinois’ fine dining + bike touring trifecta for 2013.
Choose to ride 2 10-mile loops or 2 15-mile loops for up to 30 miles total. Both routes visit Lockport eatery Paradise Bay, and end at the renowned Momma Onesta’s Italian Restaurant.
When you sign up for Bike & Dine, Lockport!, you help Main Street Lockport improve connections between the I&M Canal Trail and the merchants, parks, and historical sites that make Lockport a town worth visiting. And you also benefit Trails for Illinois, as we work to connect Illinois communities to an interconnected network of non-motorized trails.

Registration is open for Bike & Dine, Lockport! - Sweet Taste of Summer. It’s the second I&M Canal Trail event in Main Street Lockport’s & Trails for Illinois’ fine dining + bike touring trifecta for 2013.

Choose to ride 2 10-mile loops or 2 15-mile loops for up to 30 miles total. Both routes visit Lockport eatery Paradise Bay, and end at the renowned Momma Onesta’s Italian Restaurant.

When you sign up for Bike & Dine, Lockport!, you help Main Street Lockport improve connections between the I&M Canal Trail and the merchants, parks, and historical sites that make Lockport a town worth visiting. And you also benefit Trails for Illinois, as we work to connect Illinois communities to an interconnected network of non-motorized trails.

Registration will close in just 9 days (July 10) for the 2nd Annual GITy Up!, our 50-mile, overnight, family-friendly, bite-sized bike tour of the Illinois Prairie Path and Fox River Trail on July 20 - 21, 2013.Read the FAQNew for this year:
Awesome route markings, courtesy RouteArrows.com
Catering by Geneva’s own Inglenook Pantry, including vegan options & a meatier breakfast
Aurora route, including Two Brothers Round House, and kayaking with Aurora’sPaddle & Trail
Fruit, cereal, almond & coconut milk from Whole Foods - Wheaton
Swimming at St. Charles Park District’s Swanson Pool
GITy Up! exclusive discount at Batavia’s Quarry Beach!
New sponsors Whole Foods - Wheaton, Batavia’s All Spoked Up
Extend the weekend: Exclusive Friday night hotel rates at Hyatt Place - Warrenville, and the Staybridge Suites and Baymont Inn in Aurora.
Returning favorites:
25 miles of easy trail riding each day, 24.8 of them flat as a pool table
Optional easy 8-mile/day route start at North Aurora Island 
Beautiful and fun-packed Illinois Prairie Path and Fox River communities
Star gazing with Fox Valley Astronomical Society
Campsite raffle for prizes from sponsor REI, more
S’mores!
Squirt guns!
Watermelon!
A ginormous truck to carry your gear
Crazy good times
Riding in GITy Up! supports the work of Trails for Illinois to connect the state with a network of non-motorized trails—we want to make your home your trailhead.Come join us for a fantastic outdoor weekend experience!

Registration will close in just 9 days (July 10) for the 2nd Annual GITy Up!, our 50-mile, overnight, family-friendly, bite-sized bike tour of the Illinois Prairie Path and Fox River Trail on July 20 - 21, 2013.
Register for GITy Up!
Read the FAQ

New for this year:

Returning favorites:

  • 25 miles of easy trail riding each day, 24.8 of them flat as a pool table
  • Optional easy 8-mile/day route start at North Aurora Island 
  • Beautiful and fun-packed Illinois Prairie Path and Fox River communities
  • Star gazing with Fox Valley Astronomical Society
  • Campsite raffle for prizes from sponsor REI, more
  • S’mores!
  • Squirt guns!
  • Watermelon!
  • A ginormous truck to carry your gear
  • Crazy good times

Riding in GITy Up! supports the work of Trails for Illinois to connect the state with a network of non-motorized trails—we want to make your home your trailhead.

Come join us for a fantastic outdoor weekend experience!

Make it a great getaway

Submitted by Aurora Area Convention & Visitors Bureau:

More great lodging specials for GITy Up! from the Aurora Area. Please let us assist you in making this a great getaway. E-mail info@enjoyaurora.com or call us at 630.256.3190.

Staybridge Suites - Minutes from the start of the Aurora/North Aurora/Batavia spur. Just ask for the Pedal & Paddle rate of $85 for a single or $95 for a double room.

Baymont Inn in North Aurora welcomes you! Practically next door to the start. This is a super special rate at $69.99+tax per night for basic (1 king bed or 2 queen beds).

Don’t forget to spend extra time paddling the Fox River, swimming at Quarry Hall Beach, enjoy Hollywood Casino Aurora, see the Idina Menzel concert at RiverEdge Park or… oh, too much to list. Check out www.EnjoyAurora.com. Sooooo much to enjoy.

Trail News July-August 2013Making Trails Count in Illinois
…and on the Illinois Prairie Path! GITy Up! ahead— go bike camping with us New donor premiums Cook County: Trails are part of the plan; both plans, actually Trail updates, events, rumors and gossip…all in this issue. Check it out!

Trail News July-August 2013


Making Trails Count in Illinois …and on the Illinois Prairie Path! 
GITy Up! ahead— go bike camping with us 
New donor premiums 
Cook County: Trails are part of the plan; both plans, actually 
Trail updates, events, rumors and gossip

…all in this issue. Check it out!