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Caution: As of August 2017, the trail is closed due to storm washouts from Mile 13.4 to Mile 13.9; this closure is located approximately 2.5 miles north of Princeville in Peoria County. The trail is also closed from Wyoming (Mile 20) to the Spoon River bridge (Mile 22) and from Mile 22.75 to Mile 23.5; both of these closed areas are between Wyoming and Toulon. Additionally, the trail is closed from Streitmatter Road (Mile 12.2) to County Line Road (Mile 13.8) between Wyoming and Princeville. Check the the Friends of the Rock Island Trail Facebook page for updates on the repairs.
The Rock Island Trail has two distinct sections. Its southern half (sometimes referred to as the Kellar Branch Trail), stretching from Peoria's riverfront to the community of Alta, has an urban feel. Managed by the Peoria Park District, this newer, fully paved 13-mile section was completed in 2014.
The trail's southern section provides access to two family-friendly Peoria attractions: the stunning Riverfront Museum and the Caterpillar Visitor Center, showcasing exhibits by the familiar black-and-yellow branded construction equipment company that's headquartered here. Older, but no less worthwhile attractions, include the historical Springdale Cemetery founded in 1855 and Glen Oak Park, which dates back to the late 1800s and houses a zoo, botanical garden, fishing lagoon and other recreational amenities.
Note that the Peoria section includes two short on-road sections between Abington Street and War Memorial Drive.
The northern section of the trail runs from Alta, in Peoria County, to Toulon, in Stark County, connecting the towns of Alta, Dunlap, Princeville, Wyoming and Toulon. This crushed rock portion, stretching more than 20 miles, 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 central Illinois as it travels through friendly small towns, classic Midwestern farmland, and woodlands. 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 offer 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.
Please use this form to notify us of any changes or updates that we need to make to the trail information on TrailLink for this trail. RTC staff will review your submission and contact you if there is any need for further clarification.