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The western segment of the Great Western Trail in Illinois follows 17 miles of a former railway corridor through DeKalb and Kane counties, between LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve and the town of Sycamore. Another section of the Great Western Trail is found in DuPage County to the east. The Chicago Great Western Railway (later Chicago and North Western) was called the Corn Belt Route because it linked Chicago, Minneapolis, Omaha, and Kansas City.
At the trailhead on Dean Street in Saint Charles, you will find restrooms, water, and a connection to the Randall Road Bike Trail, if you want to extend your trip. The trail surface is primarily crushed stone, but occasional paved sections appear toward its eastern end. The trail surface and adjacent areas are well maintained, and the trail is well integrated within the local community.
This busy section of trail heads northwest toward Wasco and offers opportunities along the way for food and refreshments. A pleasant combination of tree canopy cover and open areas with wildflowers keep the pathway from becoming routine.
A few miles from the west end of the trail, you’ll find the Sycamore Speedway and its racing-themed restaurant located on the right for all those with a secret interest in stock car racing and demolition derbies. The trail continues about 4 miles more before the rail-trail portion ends at the small parking lot at Old State Road, on the outskirts of Sycamore.
From this location, an on-road route continues mostly along shared roadways through Sycamore Community Park, the Sycamore Community Golf Course, and residential neighborhoods to a connection with the DeKalb-Sycamore Trail (also known as the Peace Road Trail).
In winter, allowable uses include cross-country skiing and snowmobiling (the latter west of Wasco and when snows reach 4 inches).
On the east end of the trail in Saint Charles, a trailhead with parking can be found in the LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve. From I-88, take the exit for IL 31 E near mile marker 117. Head north on IL 31 for 8.8 miles. Turn left onto W. Main St./IL 64. In 0.5 mile, turn right onto N. Ninth St., which becomes Dean St. Take Dean St. 1.2 miles to the forest preserve’s parking lot, which will be on your left.
In Sycamore, on the west end of the trail, parking is located off Old State Road. From I-88, take Exit 94 for Peace Road, and head north on Peace Road. Follow the roadway 6.6 miles, then turn right onto W. State St./IL 64. Follow IL 64 for 2.6 miles east to its intersection with Old State Road. Veer left to get onto Old State Road and take this road to the parking lot, which is only about 400 feet farther.
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