Constitution Trail

Illinois

Constitution Trail Facts

States: Illinois
Counties: McLean
Length: 36.4 miles
Trail end points: Bloomington (Croxton Avenue) and Normal (Kerrick Road)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt, Crushed Stone
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6225143
Trail activites: Bike, Inline Skating, Fishing, Wheelchair Accessible, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

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Constitution Trail Description

The Constitution Trail is so named because it was dedicated on the 200th birthday of the U.S. Constitution, September 17, 1987. The first and main north-south section of the trail was built along an abandoned line of the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad. The asphalt and concrete trail is a system of as-yet disconnected segments covering approximately 37 miles 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 0.8 mile south at Croxton Avenue). This stretch of the trail is lined with trees and travels through well-kept Bloomington neighborhoods. At 1.4 miles into your journey, look for the Allers Wayside trailhead and signs for the 4.5-mile spur trail heading east. There are many places to shop and eat near the trail crossing at Veterans Parkway.

Tipton Park, at mile 3 of the spur trail, has three main trail loops of its own and features a fishing pond and a nature area with a large expanse of rare native prairie grassland. Cardinals, robins, mourning doves and golden finches flit through the treetops, while squirrels, butterflies and brightly colored wildflowers are visible closer to the ground. At the eastern end of the nature area, the trail at Tipton Park turns north along Airport Road, then back west along College Avenue, where there are basketball courts, ball fields, a playground and other park amenities. Back on the main spur along General Electric Road, you can continue east to Towanda Road before returning to the main north-south trail.

Heading north again from the Allers Wayside, the trail emerges from the trees and alters its straight line trajectory to cross active railroad tracks. At the Normal Police Station, turn right to cross the railroad, double back to the left and look for The Circle and the uptown 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 Circle and quaint uptown along Constitution Boulevard, the rail-trail resumes its straight line path through suburban neighborhoods and past larger housing complexes that appear to be rentals for the college crowd. Rosa Parks Commons sits on the east side of the trail, 4.5 miles from the start in Bloomington. A huge, open field dominates the area, which also features a playground, water fountain and parking lot.

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.

In recent years, the trail has had a number of principal expansions:

  • From the Normal Police Station, there's an education spur that goes northwest through the Illinois State University campus and on to Heartland Community College.

  • From near the main trail's southern endpoint, another 4.8-mile section leads west through city and rural spaces.

  • From southwest Bloomington, there's another 5.4-mile section down to the community of Shirley, Illinois. This is one of the first completed stretches of the historic Route 66 Bike Trail initiative in Illinois.

  • There are also numerous shorter trail segments in mostly residential areas throughout the twin cities.


Parking and Trail Access

To reach the Atwood Wayside trailhead in Bloomington, take Interstate 55 to the Market Street exit (#160) and head east for 1.8 miles. Turn right on Center Street, go two blocks, and then turn left onto Jefferson Street. Go 0.7 miles and turn left again on Robinson Street. Look for the trailhead on the right.

The Normal endpoint is accessed from I-55 by taking the Main Street exit (#165) and driving north for 1 mile. Turn right onto Kerrick Road and look for the trailhead on the right after a half mile.

Constitution Trail Reviews

My wife and I headed from Peoria to try out something new and we were definitely not let down. Perfect trail system for our riding style. We parked at the Kerrick Parking and Access point and then headed south. Went all the way to the south endpoint of the Illinois Central branch. Then headed back north. Midway back we headed east on the Bloomer Line branch to the end of it and finally back to the car. In total just a hair over 22 miles of beautiful trails through the heart of town. I would say about 1/2-3/4 of our trip was tree covered. Very excited to head back and do it again!

First trip on recumbent, positive experience with most other riders and walkers. Only passed one "pro" who was a little antsy due to the walkers in his lane. Handicap friendly area, pavement is a bit bumpy near Vonachens and near ISU campus, but tolerable. Shady areas for people wity heat intolerance like me, make this a pleasant ride.

This is one great urban trail and linear park! It's really good to see how Bloomington-Normal has built onto the trail year after year. Now it's a nearly completed matrix of interconnected trail segments that one can use to ride significant, off-street mileage on cross-town routes to work, school, shopping or recreation. Plenty of pleasant views along the trail, too. Especially on the eastern section that runs past Veterans Parkway and Tipton Park. And, all those interesting interpretive signs! There are bike shops along the trail, and great places to eat by The Circle. It's definitely worth even a long drive for out-of-towners. Just go and spend a day on the trail. We drive over 50 miles to do just that every chance we get.

Accordion

The day was perfect in temperature. The trail in great shape. The flowers and scenery along trail was great lots of tender loving care. Signs could be better we took the wrong branch on the way back to car so did some doubling back but even that was ok.

This trailer has a number of different distances and smaller trails for good riding.

"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 segments I cannot find them. I tried taking to city streets to get from one trail to the other without success. Just explored the Western section that starts/ends out near the Mitsubishi factory. Not as crowded, but plenty of glass on trail where trail safely parallels a live rail through town to Eastern Illinois. Warning signs promising camera surveillance and no tossing stones into windows on businesses in that area suggested it is not a good place to be alone with an expensive bike at times. Definately stick to the middle plus-shaped section for safety, but it is also crowded at times. Plenty of opportunity to stop and start in downtown Normal. The Eastern segment beyond Hershey Street is in very good condition, but a disappointing dead end. A few historical markers along the way. Good local trail with at least two bike shops adjacent to plus-shaped section of trail (Vitesse and Bloomington). Sadly, I would not travel from even Springfield or Chicago for this one."

"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 know existed. Well shaded with water readily available for riders, walkers and even 4 legged friends. There were portable toilets also along the trail. Hard surface made riding very easy. Generally flat with a few rises. It was totally fun."

"This trail is part of my past since I grew up in B&N. When I go back home to visit from Florida, I make a point of running it several times. I remember back when the camel back bridge used to have trains going under it instead of runners like me.

The run through Normal north to the Karick elevator is pure county. What more can you ask for in Illinois. Then a quick trip east and under the original Route 66 (now Veterns Parkway) and then on to Towanda Barnes Road.

There's lots to see for this old runner, but I am sure I see this trail much differently than most!"

"This trail has a nice surface (asphalt) for road tires. It is kind of busy on weekends, especially when Illinois State University is in session. I hope they get the expansion done in the future, as for now it’s just a giant plus sign shape.

The northernmost part is just a joke. There are about 10 busy roads to cross, which makes this trail a royal pain in the behind, especially for those with children.

All in all, I'd say if you lived in Normal, then by all means use this trail, but if you are one of those people that road trips just to ride different trails, then avoid this one as its too short, has too many road crossings, and is pretty crowded with skaters."

We are from Blommington & Normal but have lived in Florida for the last 34 years. We love to bike and are lucky to have the Pinellas Trail in our county. When we came back to B&N with our bikes we were pleasently surprised to find your Constitution Trail. You have done a great job with it and hope that you continue to expand on it.

"I bike 1,000s of miles a year on this trail. That's probably enough said. It has one straight section of 8 miles that leads from ""country"" on the north to ""country"" on the east. There are several sections of the trail of a mile or more running right through town with no street crossings. It has bridges and tunnels to carry it over several major streets and highways including Interstate 55 and Veteran's Parkway (old U.S. 66).

Parts of the trail have abundant trees and shade for hot days. Other areas pass by small lakes and creeks.

This trail is all paved as is a separate 4-mile branch on Bloomington's southeast side. "

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