The Rock Island Trail has two distinct section components. The southern section goes from W. Northmoor Road in Peoria to the community of Alta. Managed by the Peoria Park District, this newer and rapidly expanding section is currently 4.25 miles long. It should soon extend all the way south to downtown Peoria and the Illinois River. This section of the trail is asphalt and urban, with street crossings and sidewalk portions.
The northern section runs from Alta, in Peoria County, to Toulon, in Stark County, connecting the towns of Alta, Dunlap, Princeville, Wyoming and Toulon. This 26-mile, crushed rock portion has been managed as an Illinois State Park trail since 1989. Its connecting links through small towns are along well-marked streets with light traffic. This trail paints a great picture of Illinois, from its origin near the urban environment of Peoria, through numerous small towns and villages and unlimited expanses of classic Midwest farm and woodland in between. The trail owes its name to the Peoria and Rock Island Railroad Company trains that once ran passengers and freight on this line.
Heading north from the Peoria Heights trailhead in Alta, have your camera ready to capture the views from the first overlook that comes up quickly. The farm and woodland setting of much of this trail is definitely picture-worthy. The corridor continues its straight-as-an-arrow path through farm fields as far as the eye can see. The trees lining the trail offer respite from the sun and also harbor a wide variety of bird life.
About 6 miles north of the county line trailhead, the fields start giving way to the outskirts of the small town of Wyoming. Upon entering Wyoming proper, look for the trail headquarters on the left. The restored Chicago Burlington & Quincy Depot, a bright, barn-red building, is absolutely beautiful, complete with the restored wooden cantilevers on the roofline. The depot also houses a visitor center and railroad museum.
The scenery becomes more heavily wooded as you leave Wyoming and enter the Spoon River area. The Spoon River is a great spot to stop for a rest and admire the trestle bridge that spans the river. The bridge has observation bump-outs that offers a convenient rest stop, with the wooded river valley for a backdrop.
After a mile, you leave the tree cover behind, and the scenery switches back to farm fields for the remainder of your journey. State Route 17 indicates your imminent arrival in Toulon, where the trail ends just east of town.
To access the Alta trailhead, take Interstate 74 to State Route 6 and head northeast for 5.5 miles. Take Exit 5 and turn north onto Allen Road. At 2000 feet ahead, follow the main traffic flow to the left, as the road westward becomes Alta Lane/West Alta Road/County Highway 21. The trailhead is 3000 feet ahead, on the right.
To reach the midway trailhead from I-74, take SR 6 north to Exit 2/US 150. Turn right at the exit and travel west on US 150 for 2000 feet. Take SR 91 north through the towns of Dunlap and Princeville, for about 19 miles, and then turn right on County Line Road. The trailhead is on the right in a half mile.
To access the Toulon trailhead from I-74, take Exit 71 to SR 78 north for 17 miles and turn right on SR 17. Follow it for just over 4 miles, through Toulon to the trailhead on the left, just east of town.
This trail is a nice mix of environs. The newer, urban section in Peoria takes you by typical city features: Parks, shopping centers, neighborhoods; roadways, street crossings, bridge and tunnel. The older, State Park section of the trail to the north ...
We came from Melbourne, Australia to sample a few cycling rail trails. We brought our tandem recumbent bike with us. We stayed in AmericInn Hotel not far from the trail. However, the staff did not have any info about it. And they could not even tell us ...
I through hiked the Rock Island Trail on April 2nd and 3rd of 2012. Here in central Illinois, like much of the country, we had unseasonably warm April weather. I was on vacation, so I decided to through hike the Rock Island Trail. To through hike the ...