Stretching north from Freeport, Illinois, to the Wisconsin state line, the Jane Addams Trail is a natural wonder. Expect to see birds and wild animals-from exotic aerial hunters, such as owls and hawks, to run-of-the-mill squirrels and deer. The trail is closed every fall during deer-hunting season, and snowmobiling is allowed when there are at least 4 inches of snow on the trail. (Winter users are encouraged to wear bright-colored clothing so they are visible to snowmobilers.) The trail is named for the renowned humanitarian and Nobel Peace Prize winner who grew up in Cedarville, less than 2 miles from the trail. You can visit her childhood home and gravesite in Cedarville.
Starting in Freeport, the crushed-limestone trail enters a heavily wooded area that supports a wide variety of trees and birds, and likely some school groups as well. The natural attractions make for popular educational field trips.
A separate paved section of the trail is also available in Freeport about a third of a mile east of the trail's main route. It parallels N. Riverside Drive for most of its 1.7-mile route through rural countryside. Eventually, this segment will stretch farther east to reach the Pecatonica Prairie Trail.
As you travel from Freeport north to Orangeville, you will be able to enjoy many nice views of some jutting rock sides and local creeks. These vistas are peppered among the other wooded areas and more common fields of agriculture that predominate the landscape.
In Orangeville, the Richland Creek trailhead provides a quiet and convenient place to end your trip. The location features a covered shelter and nearby gas station with refreshments. If you brought your camera, be sure to get a photo near the Orangeville sign to commemorate your Jane Addams Trail trip. The official end of the trail is at the Illinois-Wisconsin state line, but it is easy to miss, so pay close attention if you need to turn around at the border. From there, you can continue north along Wisconsin's Badger State Trail all the way to Madison. The state line is very close to a quiet rural road leading to a quaint family farm on the left.
To access the Wes Block Trailhead (the southern trailhead in Freeport) take State Route 26 just south of its intersection with US 20 to Riverside Drive. Follow Riverside past the Baymont Inn and Suites, then right on Heine Road to the trailhead. The previous access off Fairview Road north of U.S. Highway 20 is now closed.
To access the Richland Creek trailhead in Orangeville from State Route 26, turn right on Orangeville Road/E. 2nd Street. The trailhead is on the left at the large white shelter.