The Constitution Trail is so named because it was dedicated on the 200th birthday of the U.S. Constitution, September 17, 1987. The asphalt trail is a system of as-yet (summer 2011) disconnected segements covering 20 miles or so between Normal and Bloomington, Illinois. While this trail makes a great outing any time of year, take the locals' advice and try some cross-country skiing along the corridor in winter.
Begin your ride at the Atwood Wayside trailhead in Bloomington (the official beginning is 0.2 mile south at East Grove Street). This stretch of the trail is lined with trees and travels through well-kept Bloomington neighborhoods. Almost 2 miles into your journey, look for the Allers Wayside trailhead and signs for the 4.1-mile spur trail heading east. Along this commercial corridor are the Shoppes at College Hill and the corporate headquarters of State Farm Insurance.
Tipton Trails Prairie Park, at mile 3 of the spur trail, features a fishing pond, basketball courts and a nature area with a large expanse of rare native prairie grassland. From the park, head north through a quiet neighborhood before entering a wonderful stretch shaded with a beautiful tree canopy. Cardinals, robins, mourning doves and golden finches flit through the treetops, while squirrels, butterflies and brightly colored wildflowers are visible closer to the ground.
Back on the main north-south trail from the Allers Wayside heading north again, the trail emerges from the trees and enters the town of Normal right at the police station. Cross the active railroad tracks at the dedicated crossing and look for the downtown area on the right. Home to Illinois State University, Normal is a charming college town, and this area is full of colorful storefronts and hip eateries and pubs.
Leaving the quaint downtown, the rail-trail meanders through suburban neighborhoods and past larger housing complexes that appear to be rentals for the college crowd. Constitution Park sits on the east side of the trail, just under 4 miles from the start in Bloomington. A huge, open field dominates the area, which also features a playground, water fountain and parking lot. An interpretative sign commemorates the location of the historic Empire Machine Works. In 1870 William Flagg, a prominent early citizen, built his factory to produce mowers, reapers and other agricultural implements that he could easily ship out on the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad. In 1848 Flagg was involved in a lawsuit over patent rights and retained the services of a young lawyer from Springfield named Abraham Lincoln. In spite of his success in defending Flagg, Lincoln refused more than $10 for his services.
The final mile of Constitution Trail takes you under Interstate 55 and past a few more housing developments interspersed with some farm fields. There are also two gravel-processing facilities along this stretch. On the horizon, a row of large silos signals the northern trailhead and conclusion of the Constitution Trail at Kerrick Road.
Parking and Trail Access
There are numerous access points for the Constitution Trail, refer to the local map
. For detour information during trail construction, refer to the city of Normal's website
This trailer has a number of different distances and smaller trails for good riding.
Good. Not great.
"It would seem the metro area has allowed various land owners to squat on original railbed in many places producing a disconnected patchwork. It is at least three separate trails. Furthermore, if there are signs along the route helping to connect the ...
Great first experience
"My daughter and I took advantage of the Constitution Trail today. It was the first time either of us had ventured out of our local town for a ride. The trail is in beautiful shape and wanders through some beautiful parts of Bloomington-Normal I didn't ...