The Des Plaines River Greenway is a great trail. The trail itself is 31 miles long, but it connects with other local trails giving it hundreds of accessible miles off the main corridor trail. It is surrounded by more than 3,000 acres of forest preserve property. It is easily accessible by truck. It is located in northern Illinois, just east of U.S. 41 near the Wisconsin line.
For us truckers the first question is: Where can I park? Coming down Interstate 94 from Wisconsin, exit at Russell Road. There is a TA and an independent truckstop just off the exit. From there you can bike or ride east on Russell, .75 miles, to the Van Patten woods. That is the north trailhead. Traveling further south, take the exit for U.S. 41. At the first intersection there is a small C store with truck parking on the southeast corner. There is an adult book store with truck parking on the southwest corner. The store is closed every morning and all day Sunday. The trail parallels U.S. 41 about 100 yards to the east.
The trail’s surface is crushed limestone similar to many rail trails. The similarity ends there. Most rail trails are straight and flat. Their curves are gradual, designed to accommodate long trains. This trail has curves and small short hills. It makes running or bike riding more fun. The road intersections are spaced far apart. You can easily get in a six mile out and back run without crossing a road.
You are apt to see deer, turtles and other wildlife along the way. The closest I have come to crashing on that trail is having to avoid a large turtle lounging on the path. On my latest ride I had to slow down for a deer who was standing near the trail. When she finally turned to run, her fawn came into view. Often on a ride you will be completely alone in the woods or wetland with nothing to see but nature. It will curl back to where you can see homes, RR tracks or a highway. It will remind you that you are still in an urban area.
This trail offers a safe place to exercise. It also offers an escape from a trucker’s day. We often run or walk around industrial parks or along a highway. Every once in a while, take advantage of a place like this. Find out more at www.lcfpd.org.