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The paved Interurban Trail provides 8.4 miles of suburban and rural scenery for users between Chatham and Springfield. It follows the former route of the electrified Illinois Terminal Railroad (originally Illinois Traction System) that connected St. Louis, Missouri, with towns in central Illinois from the 1890s to 1980s.
Today, bicycle commuters from southwestern Sangamon County aren’t the only ones using this transportation corridor. Most of the way, the trail parallels the Union Pacific Railroad tracks that carry Amtrak’s high-speed Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle from Chicago to St. Louis.
The trail starts at South Main Street in Chatham, but you’ll probably begin 0.2 mile north at the parking lot for the Chatham Railroad Museum, where a plethora of artifacts, photos, and documents are displayed. This vintage 1902 railway station served the adjacent Chicago and Alton Railroad, which was eventually acquired (by then operating under a different name) by Union Pacific.
As you leave the museum, be aware that the trail lacks restrooms and water fountains, though facilities are available in communities along the route. Head north on North State Street from the train museum; you will reconnect with the Interurban Trail after crossing East Walnut Street. In 1 mile, the trail skirts along a paved golf cart path as it winds through the manicured greens and fairways of a golf course. Only 0.25 mile beyond the golf course is a highlight of the Interurban Trail: Lake Springfield. The trail uses a refurbished railroad bridge to cross a narrow elbow of the 4,200-acre reservoir that supplies water to residents of Springfield and surrounding areas all year.
Beyond Lake Springfield, the trail passes through farmland for about 2.5 miles until you pass beneath I-72 and the outskirts of Springfield, the state capital. The trail leaves the old rail corridor for the last 3 miles as it maneuvers around busy roads and interchanges to a trailhead parking lot on West North Street. From here, you can follow the Wabash Trail 2.1 miles to a shopping district on the west side of Springfield.
A small oasis from the bustle of suburban and city life, the Interurban Trail is exactly the kind of useful and pleasant link you expect from a rail-trail.
To reach the southern trailhead in Chatham from I-55, take Exit 88 and follow signs toward Chatham. Head southwest 1 mile on Palm Road and turn right onto Chatham Road. In 1.2 miles, Chatham Road becomes E. Walnut St. Go 1.9 miles to N. State St. and turn left. The parking lot for the Chatham Railroad Museum is on your left in 0.1 mile.
To reach the northern trailhead in Springfield from I-72, take Exit 96 for MacArthur Blvd. Head north 1.6 miles on S. MacArthur Blvd., and turn left onto W. North St. Go 0.4 mile; the Interurban and Wabash Trails parking lot is on your right, just before S. Park Ave.
Another great ride and a job well done by the cities of Springfield and Chatham. Add the Wabash trail for a 22.5 mile out and back. A decent hill where the I 72 and train tracks bisect the ride. Pass through a short tunnel and about a .3 mile climb with a good gradient of 6 %. Flat out to Chat am with one road to cross that has signals and a bile repair stand just before the crossing. my favorite in the area of Central Illinois.
We always start with the Wabash Trail and hook up to this one. One of our favorites to do.
Well maintained and easy to ride. Well, expect for the bridge / hill in the middle. Lol. But mostly flat and a great trail to take a quick ride down.
High recommended to try. Has a few places along the way to stop and rest if you need too. You'll usually find someone on the trail along the way. Very popular trail.
My husband and I rode this trail today. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful trail. So glad to have this trail so close to our home!
Overall this is a nice 8 mile trail. Good riding surface for road bikes and mostly flat for an easy ride. Most of the trail is shaded which is nice on a hot day. Trail connects with the Wabash Trail, but that trail is more crowded with walkers.
Awesome trail. Easy to access, great surface, interesting terrain which is mostly flat except around I-74, nice scenery, good length, some shade and it connects directly to Wabash Trail. What's not to like?
Perhaps I am biased because we live on the south end of Springfield and ride this trail all of the time, but this trail is fantastic.
First and foremost, this trail is actually longer than advertised. It connects with the "Wabash Trail" in Springfield, Ill. (Sangamon County) through a path along MacArthur Boulevard.
The trail is on top of what used to be the Illinois Terminal line. Photos of the line are scattered throughout stretch from the Chatham trail head to Interstate 72. My favorite part is around mile marker 2, when you ride along and across Lake Springfield.
It is well maintained. Smooth. Flat except for a hill leading to a bridge over a couple of rail lines. It even runs by a major sporting goods store.
If I have any complaint about the trail, it is that there are no bathrooms. Fortunately, this trail is in a more urban area, which means there are places along the way.
Come and see this trail for yourself after you see all of the Abraham Lincoln sites downtown!
It's all flat, except for a stretch in Springfield where there's a big hill to go up and down. We parked at the big Scheels store in Springfield where there is ample parking, restrooms and restaurant. There's a sidewalk connection to catch the trail about one block away. Scheels also has a bunch of other trail maps in their sporting goods department.
The trail is nice and scenic. The path has been modified due to the MacArthur extension to I-72, it's now routed across the street and behind Scheels. There is parking in Chatham at the south end of the trail, a small lot is provided directly across the street from the trail head. There are several other parking lots at various points on the path (Woodside Rd, MacArthur and I-72, and MacArthur and Wabash).
As my wife and I are beginners, this trail was excellent. We didn't make it all the way to Chatham because "one" particular hill was a monster. We will keep doing it until it becomes second nature.
"As a new resident of Chatham, the interurban trail is a great asset. I ride my bike to Springfield all of the time. "
The four of us enjoyed this trail very much. Signage needs to be improved. Also toured the Wabash Trail. Great job on both trails.
I found this trail to be great for in-line skating. It's very smooth. There are only a few rough spots when crossing Woodside Road. Towards the northern end it's not well marked. There is no dedicated parking for the trail which was distressing.
"The Interurban trail now extends across Woodside road, continuing to Chatham for a total trail length slightly greater than seven miles. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has not officially opened the new section of trail, however."
"This trail is a nice surprise, except for the abrupt ending at Woodside Road. However, many bikers continue across Woodside to the old part of the trail that leads to Lake Springfield (there are even some trails that have been 'built' in this area by mountain bikers).
Once you hit the lake there is an OLD railroad bridge that has been torn out so it only extends halfway across the lake. More adventurous bikers find a trail that leads to the railroad bridge that is in use (CAUTION) that then connects back to the original trail and leads to Chatham. I think the city took out the bridge because it was unsafe. However, how safe is crossing a set of railroad tracks on your bike when a train goes whizzing by at 70-mph?"
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