Weekend Backpacker: Chicago
Take a trip back in time along the Rock Island State Trail. A former railway corridor, this26-mile hiking and biking trail offers natural and architectural attractions reminiscent of the early1900s. Shrouded in a tree-canopied corridor, the trail runs along a rail bed that was abandonedin the late 1950s and was opened as a recreational trail in 1989. The linear path stretches fromAlta, in Peoria County, to Toulon, in Stark County.
A gentle grade makes the walking easy, and the entire trail is marked each mile. Thoseplanning on hiking the entire trail will need to leave a vehicle or bicycle at one end or arrangetransportation back.
Begin in Alta, northwest of Peoria, and trek through a tunnel of trees for about two miles.Just past the Kickapoo Creek Recreation Area, look for a beautiful view of the creek bed andsurrounding area before arriving at the edge of Dunlap.
The next segment is a blend of farmland and wooded areas. The town of Princeville,located off the trail, is about halfway to Toulon.
Continuing north to Wyoming, hikers will see the old Chicago, Burlington, and QuincyRailroad Depot, a small wooden depot. The trail goes through Wyoming and picks up again on thenorth end of town. The most scenic stretch of the hike is between Wyoming and Toulon, which featuresrural scenes and pretty vistas over the Spooner River. A wooden bridge along this stretch is acool resting spot. From here, continue on the trail for four miles to the parking lot on the edge ofToulon.
Camping: Hike-in camping is available at the Kickapoo Creek Recreation Area, about one milefrom Alta. Open year-round.
Getting there: The trailhead in Alta is one mile from Route 6.
Permits and maps: Camping permits and maps are available at the Rock Island State Park office.
Rock Island Trail State Park
311 E. Williams St.
Wyoming, IL 61491
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication