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The sprawling Constitution Trail covers more than 46 miles throughout the Bloomington-Normal region. The trail was officially named and dedicated in 1987 in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the United States Constitution. The first completed segment opened to the public in 1989, and since then, the trail has grown from the original rail-trail built on the corridor of the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad into an impressive trail network spanning across the region with several small gaps yet to be filled in.
The Illinois Central Branch, the main spine of the trail, begins at Croxton Avenue and Indianapolis Street and travels northward through an industrial area. The pathway takes you by the Beer Nuts production plant, where you can visit the company store of the famous Bloomington-produced snack. Shortly after passing through the Washington Street tunnel, you’ll come to the Atwood Wayside trailhead with a covered picnic area, water fountain, and parking area.
The tree-lined trail continues through a mix of residential and forested areas. Along the way, be sure to read the historical markers with stories of the rail corridor’s past. After passing over Emerson Street and Sugar Creek, you’ll pass under the historic Camelback Bridge: its distinctive shape allowed the tall stacks of wood-burning locomotives to pass under it. The wooden bridge is the oldest surviving structure associated with the rail corridor.
Just a few yards farther, you’ll come to Allers Shelter Wayside, where the Bloomer Line Branch of the trail heads east. This 4-mile section of trail travels through peaceful Bloomington neighborhoods and shopping areas. Along the way, the trail passes by several parks with pleasant side paths to take in the scenery. Three miles in, you’ll arrive at Tipton Park, which features an expansive path that takes you through ponds and a lush prairie habitat. About a mile farther, the Bloomer Line Branch comes to an end at the edge of town on Towanda Barnes Road.
Continuing north on the Illinois Central Branch from Allers Shelter Wayside brings you to the town of Normal. Here, the route passes through the center of the trendy Uptown district near Illinois State University (ISU). This neighborhood features several local shops and restaurants just off the path. The Collegiate Branch of the trail begins here, heads through the ISU campus, and connects to Heartland Community College. The trail also runs along Fairview Park and an adjacent golf course, making for a tree-canopied mile-long section.
The Illinois Central Branch continues out of the Uptown district along a forested corridor, becoming more and more rural. At the edge of town, you’ll pass by Rosa Parks Commons, a vast open field with a playground, restrooms, water, and parking. A mile later, you’ll intersect with the Northtown Branch of the trail at Northtown Road. This 3-mile section heads east along the road-way and loops around a neighborhood surrounding a large pond.
The Interurban Branch is the westernmost section of the trail network. The West Route 9 Wayside trailhead is located on 1400 North Road, just west of the Mitsubishi Motorway (US 150). The trailhead features plenty of parking and a large map to help guide your journey. The first 2 miles of the Interurban Branch are largely rural along the tree-lined path. When you pass under I-74, things begin to change into a more industrial feel. After passing over Goose Creek on the modern trestle, the trail parallels West Washington Street for a stretch, then zigzags across and over railroad tracks into Alton Depot Park. The trail continues alongside an active railroad line for just over a mile before stopping at East Lincoln Street. Turn left (east) here and the trail will pick up as a wide sidewalk on Lincoln Street (just past Bunn Street) until this section ends 0.5 mile later at McGregor Street.
The Southtown Branch of the trail begins at the intersection of Fox Creek Road and Historic US Route 66, merging for a time with the Route 66 Branch. This section continues along Hamilton Road until Bunn Street. After a short gap, the trail picks up again at the intersection of Commerce Parkway and Hamilton Road, but you can access the trail by traveling on Rhodes Lane, then turning left onto Morrissey Drive and continuing on the wide side path at Hamilton Road. The trail briefly shares a boundary with an active railway, forming a rail-with-trail segment. The trail then turns north, passes beneath Hamilton Road, and briefly follows a small creek on its way toward Ireland Grove Road. A loop trail that circles State Farm Lake can extend the trip by roughly a mile. During the day, employees can be seen enjoying the outdoors.
The trail crosses Ireland Grove Road and loosely parallels Arcadia Drive. Like the previous section, it offers a few sweeping turns. A short spur leads back south to parking along North 1200 East Road. When the trail approaches East Lincoln Street, it crosses over to the northern side of the roadway and follows the wide sidewalk along it. At South Hershey Road, you can go north to access parking and facilities at Rollingbrook Park or continue east on the trail. Here, the trail separates from the road and meanders briefly along a small creek and then through nicely kept neighborhoods before it joins White Eagle Drive. It remains a separated trail for another 0.5 mile, where it ends at Streid Drive.
As its name implies, the Route 66 Branch follows the famed US highway. Work on this section of the trail network is ongoing, with complete stretches open from the small community of Shirley northeast to Bloomington, and from Normal northeast to the town of Towanda.
To reach the Atwood Wayside trailhead on the southern end of the Illinois Central Branch: From I-55/I-74, take Exit 160 for US 150. Head east on US 150/W. Market St. In 1.1 miles, turn left onto N. Hinshaw Ave., then take the second right onto W. Locust St. After 1.5 miles, turn right onto N. Robinson St. Four blocks down the street, the trailhead’s parking lot will be on your left, just past E. Monroe St.
To reach the northern trailhead of the Illinois Central Branch at Kerrick Road/County Road 1850: From I-55, take Exit 165B for US 51 Bus. N/N. Main St. and head north. In about 1.25 miles, turn right onto Kerrick Road/CR 1850. The parking area will be past three warehouse driveways on the right side.
There are numerous other trailheads for this extensive trail system throughout the Bloomington-Normal area; visit constitutiontrail.org for detailed maps and parking directions for those locations.
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.
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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