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There’s no debating the historical significance of the Jane Addams Trail. Not only is it named for a Nobel Peace Prize-winning social activist who grew up nearby, but the trail also passes the site of the second Abraham Lincoln-Stephen Douglas debate, located in Freeport.
The trail runs nearly 19 miles from historical Tutty’s Crossing in Freeport to the Wisconsin border, where it becomes the Badger State Trail. It follows a rail line that the Illinois Central built in 1887 between Freeport, Illinois, and Madison, Wisconsin. The route, which crosses 22 bridges on the way to the border, is part of the 500-mile Grand Illinois Trail. Future plans call for a connection to the Pecatonica Prairie Trail east of Freeport.
Starting at Tutty’s Crossing trailhead in Freeport, you’ll wind through a historical district on sidewalks and bike paths for about 0.4 mile to a park featuring displays and life-size statues marking the site of the second Lincoln-Douglas debate in 1858. Following on-street bike lanes another 0.4 mile takes you to the original steel truss railroad bridge across the Pecatonica River and the beginning of an off-road paved trail that proceeds 3.5 miles to the Wes Block trailhead. The path is crushed limestone from Wes Block north.
Heading due north, the trail passes through woods that support a wide variety of trees, birds, and other wildlife. During deer-hunting season, it’s recommended that trail users wear blaze orange. Bright-colored clothing is also advised for those traveling on foot or skis during winter, as snowmobiling is allowed when at least 4 inches of snow are on the trail.
As you travel from Freeport north to Orangeville, you will see exposed rock embankments as well as creeks and wetlands. Vistas of open prairie and farmland are interspersed among the wooded areas.
You’ll cross County Road 5 at 3 miles past the Wes Block trailhead. It’s less than 2 miles on a shoulderless road to the childhood home and grave site of Jane Addams in Cedarville. Born here in 1860, she received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931 for her humanitarian deeds, which included the opening of a settlement house project (Hull House) in Chicago and activism in the social and political movements of her time.
About 7 miles north of CR 5, you’ll cross a covered bridge as you arrive in Orangeville, where the Richland Creek trailhead provides a quiet and convenient place to end your trip with a covered shelter and nearby gas station for refreshments. The official end of the trail is at the Illinois-Wisconsin state line, about 2.5 miles north. You’ll need a Wisconsin state trail pass if you plan to ride the remaining 40 miles north to Madison on the Badger State Trail.
To reach the southern trailhead in Freeport from I-39, exit onto US 20 W near mile marker 119, and go 32.4 miles. Take the IL 75 exit toward Freeport. Turn left onto IL 75, and go 2.8 miles. Just after crossing the Pecatonica River, turn right into a driveway that heads to Tutty’s Crossing trailhead parking lot.
To reach the northern trailhead in Orangeville from I-39, exit onto US 20 W near mile marker 119, and go 35.6 miles. Take the IL 26 exit north toward Monroe, Wisconsin. Turn right onto IL 26, and go 10.3 miles to IL 7/W. Orangeville Road in Orangeville and turn right. The Orangeville trailhead and parking lot is on the left in 0.1 mile.
First time rider and a lovely Fall Day with leaves falling and temps in the 70's. Rode to state line and returned. Stopped in Orangeville at the BP Convienence store for a rest and snack. Trail is in great shape for a non-paved path. A few gopher holes here and there but the path is hard packed.
You will get grit being picked up by your tires and thrown around a little. This is typical of a limestone path. Overall a very nice ride. There is a paved path from the trail head into Freeport about 4 miles. Runs right past the Hampton Inn so a person could stay at the Hampton and then ride the trail north into Wisconsin. I think Monroe is about 10 miles past the state line.
9-6-15 First trip to jane Adams trail. Perfect for 90+ day. Chose not to park at Tutty's Crossing and just followed 75 to 26 to trailhead past baymont hotel.
Trail feels like a well kept secret. very shady most of the way and slips by the edge of several small towns. two groups were buying passes to go into wis. when we got to the state line. Good food in Monroe they said. We turned back. Highly recomend this one.
We started out in Freeport and went past the Wisconsin line and returned. All in all, the trail was very nicely marked and even grade. After all of our miles, the bumps on the way back were more than my bottom could take, but I didn't notice it on the way there. There are just too many little critters digging holes in the surface. I loved the many bridges and benches along the way as well as the couple of shelters. It made it nice to know that you were never too far from civilization. Nice trail, we will do this one again and recommend it to all of our friends.
We started out at the south end of the trail. Parking is easy to get to from IL 26 southbound (1st right S of US 20). Good signage directing you to parking. They are currently working on the connection between the small asphalt section and the main section of the trail. We started from the main section parking lot. Population on the trail was light, especially early. We started northbound about 8:30 on Labor Day Sunday and we passed less then a dozen others the entire length, noticeably more on the way back. With some short exceptions, mostly around Orangeville, the entire path is shaded! Cool, scenic and peaceful. Many bridges along the way with well maintained, smooth transitions - including one newly constructed/repaired covered bridge. Several grade crossings, but with the exception of IL 26, the roads are not heavily traveled. Even crossing IL 26, your wait will probably less than a minute. There is a nice shelter and a gas station just off the trail at Orangeville. We biked the entire trail, to the Wisconsin line and returned. One important thing I have to mention. You need to keep your eyes open for holes and gullies. These will grab your tires and if not careful, put you on the ground. I imagine this will be an ongoing maintenance challenge judging by the number of prairie dogs sighted - they are everywhere. Other than that, the trail is VERY well maintained. If you keep moving you don't need bug spray, but if you stop, you're dinner. Many pros and not enough cons to take away one of the stars. A 5-star ride!!!!!
This trill would be perfect for a hot summer day as it is almost completely shaded.. dappled shade only this to watch for is chipmunk holes on the trail, a few miles from the Wes Bock trail head.
This was my first trip to the Jane Adams Trail. What a delight. Smooth crushed stone trail, easy to ride with my recumbent trike. My lab ran alongside my trike, tethered to me by a long leash. I am certain that she appreciated the surface that is much cooler than blacktop or concrete. We did not travel the whole path We went about six miles and then turned back to the West End parking lot The trip was shaded with old growth trees that provided refreshing shade. Although passing alongside of swamp areas and river overflow areas, my ride was free of pesky mosquitoes. The cool breeze that came down the wide trail and our good pace on the trike probably kept us bug free. We will be back.
This trail starts near Rt. 20 on the north side of Freeport, il. The trail is nice to do in partials or taking a few days ride. From the start you travel north to Orangeville, il. Then you can continue onto Monroe, wi.
Lots of places to eat and a brewery to tour here. Then onto Monticello, Wi. on the (permit required or day pass). Here you would enjoy spending a night in New Glarus using the Sugar River Trail. A great Swiss style village with many things to do and see. After that either double back or route the roads to get back to the Badger trail and onto Oregon, Wi. Here the trail is paved and you can get right up to Madison, Wi. and circle the lake or stop right up by the Capital. Lots to see and do for a day.
Then if you still want to disappear double back a little and head west on the military ridge trail to Dodgeville, Wi. This is good for sites and camping.
So for a few hours, or a few days, its a great trail system to enjoy. I have for years.
I ride this trail several times a year. A classic rail line trail: Flat, easy to ride, and very well maintained. It is crushed gravel the entire length. Pretty much shaded the entire length also which makes it a nice ride on a hot summer day. Plenty of benches along the way for rest stops. The mosquitos can get really bad at times (summer) as the trail runs through swampy areas, in which case just stop to rest in sunny spots. Orangeville has very nice facility for parking, bathrooms, and a shelter with picnic tables. This trail directly connects to the Badger Trail at the Wisconsin state line, but I have always turned around there. Overall, the quality of this trail is hard to beat!!!
This is the best trail I have seen in Northern Illinois. Well maintained, mostly tree covered, and rather remote. Only services are in Orangeville unless you go into monroe WI.
I've ridden this trail twice this summer and we've enjoyed both rides. We started at the trailhead north of Freeport (and as one of the other reviewers mentions access is now off of 26) and rode to Monroe, WI. Monroe is nice little town with several places to eat and a pretty nice chocolate and ice cream store. That ride is bit over 40 miles round trip. The trail is shady and pretty fast but you really do need to keep an eye out for gopher holes (some of which are pretty big). If you continue on into WI you should be aware that the trail is pretty steadily (although gently) uphill from the state line to Monroe. The first time we rode the trail it had rained heavily over night and I was impressed by how well drained it was. The scenery is forest and fields but we've seen a lot of deer and some herons.
I was on this trail in June of 2012. The trail is tree lined and covered with crushed limestone, which makes a pretty fast surface, although it can sometimes be bumpy and uneven. The trail crosses roads, but rarely runs alongside them, so that you are free of traffic sound and get to enjoy the beauty of the countryside unobstructed. The trail is generally level all the way to the Wisconsin state line and is well-marked with mileage posts and trailside maps. Orangeville, about ten miles from the starting point outside of Freeport, is a great place to stop. The BP station has a pretty good kitchen, selling subs, tacos, pizza and other fast food. The town of Orangeville also has places to eat, as well as a small grocery store. One thing to watch out for: gopher holes in the trail. If you hit one unexpectedly, they can be big enough to tip you over.
If you continue on this path into Wisconsin, remember that the Badger Trail charges a fee of 4.00 per bike per day.
I walked this trail this summer and I think it's as nice a trail as you are likely to find - I highly recommend it. However, a word of warning to those who want to park at the South trailhead near Freeport: you can no longer get to the parking lot by turning West off highway 26 onto Fairview Road North of the intersection of Highway 26 and Highway 20, as the intersection where Fairview Road used to cross Highway 20 has been completely removed due to a road construction project. To get to the lot you must now turn West off Highway 26 onto Riverside Drive South of the intersection of with Highway 20 and follow that road along South of Highway 20 until it eventually meets the West end of Fairview Road, and then proceed on to the parking lot.
I recently completed the northern leg of the Grand Illinois Trail from Galena to Elgin. I was on the Jane Addams Trail on August 4th, 2010 from Buena Vista to the southern end at Route 20. The trail is a well compacted fine gravel/limestone and was in excellent condition in spite of the recent heavy rains in the area. A crew from Stephenson County was on the trail repairing washouts and gopher holes. According to the crew, the trail is scheduled to connect with the Pecatonica Prarie Trail next year. Stephenson County will take over maintenance up to Winnebago County when the 2 trails are joined.
I did not venture into the nearby towns to check out the services though. The road connection between the south end of the JA and the Pecatonica Prarie Trail was a series of open and quiet roads.
Rode this trail today from the Badger State trail about half way to Freeport. It is a great place to ride. Plenty of places to eat and drink along the way. Oragneville has a nice trail access point with johns, picknick shelter etc. There is also a gas station minimart and town is right there. I got a good look at a bald eagle there circling around the prairie there very low and slow. I saw a deer also. The only thing is the chipmunks love to burrow in the trail. Worse than that some bigger rodents are also leaving large burrow openings along the way so watch out for them. All And all I would give this trail a solid A
"The Jane Addams Trail is now connected with the Badger Trail to the north. Orangeville is a great place to start from with a nice black top parking area and a shelter to eat your lunch in or the village has numerous places to choose from with anything from a meal, sandwitches or icecream"
We love the Jane Adams Trail! We have biked this trail three times this year alone. Our favorite time was around memorial day when all of the spring wildflowers were in bloom. Beautiful! This trail is always so quiet and peaceful. You don't pass many roads or people along the way. The biking surface has always been great as well. This trail is our favorite in Illinois.
"The trail now goes past Beleville Wis. which is around 45 miles past Freepoet Ill. It is suppose to go all the way to Madison Wis. which will be around 61 miles one way from Freeport. Trouble is these snowmobiles dig into the wood when they go over the bridges and the way it looks they will need replaced before long.
"I rode on it last weekend and lked it. Someone at oneco told me they are suppose to build it to Monroe, WI. starting sometime soon and there will be more hills to ride when they get done.
"i just returned from a quick trip back home to freeport and took my first series of walks along the now-finished JA trail. beautiful!!!!! all along the trail, i saw birdhouses, wood duck boxes in richland creek, nesting cranes and geese, ... absolutely beautiful! it's so nice to see people take a renewed interest in nature."
"We rode the trail again recently during spring break and discovered that the trail is now open another 2.5 miles north to the Wisconsin state line. For those of you with kids like us, restrooms are available only at the southern trailhead and Orangeville, 2.5 miles south of the state line (with more than 9 miles in between). If you go east onto the main street in Orangeville, Tammy Jo's restaurant offers generous servings of deliciouis, reasonably-priced ice cream. All days but Friday, though, they close at 2 PM. On Fridays, they close at 6:00.
Overall, the trail is nice and shaded, with the exception of a mile south and mile or so north of Orangeville. The scenery is nice, and we scared some frogs off the trails. The bridges had plywood sheets on them which we believe were to prevent damage from snowmobiles. Their spacing was perfect for maximum bumpiness, and we look forward to their removal for the summer! Overall, the trail was in good condition, but we found a few soft spots. The grade is slight to the north, making the southern journey barely easier, barring the strong wind we had this time. "
"The decision to drive to Freeport from the suburbs northwest of Chicago to ride this trail was a good one.
The southern trailhead is found by taking the Freeport Route 20 bypass and turning south onto Fairview Road, which is about one mile west of the Route 26 exit. When the road ends, turn right and travel west about one-fourth of a mile. The large, gravel parking lot has an attractive and interesting sign made with railroad timbers and steel rails.
The trail leaves the lot to the north, immediately passing beneath Route 20. White and purple flowers lined the trail, and within a couple of miles we passed a gently sloped area entirely covered with these beautiful plants. Some old rail structures stood on the east side to remind us all of the abandoned line that must have thrived at one time.
The surface is hard packed fine sand or gravel which was easily ridden by bicycles with road tires. A bit farther north bison or buffalo were seen in a field to the west.
Many old trestle bridges with brand new decking spanned a steam that seemed to follow the rail line. In a few sections, the trail cut through the layered rock, traveling for a short distance with rock walls to either side.
A couple of very small towns are present along the trail and then we found ourselves in Orangeville at the northern end of what has been developed thus far on this trail, which will eventually travel to Madison, repotedly to include a 1/4 mile long tunnel along the way.
Being Memorial Day, not much was open, but a BP gas station 100 yards off the north end of the trail had a section with seating, offering sandwiches, pizza, drinks, etc., at reasonable prices. A couple of signs were passed indicating foods available on Sundays, and we heard good things about a couple of places to eat in the town of Orangeville.
On the way back, we stopped at an old caboose set on rails and joined with a deck to a screened building, all overlooking a very inviting lake. We soon found out we were on private property and quickly left, feeling sorry that this very cute arrangement wasn't meant to be experienced by trail users.
The round trip was approximately 22 miles, with lots of rural roads to explore off the trail for those looking for more miles. We did this ride on a beautiful, sunny day, and although it wasn't humid or hot, the abundance of shade along the ride told us that this would be nice to cruise even during summer's nastier conditions.
The trail was not busy with riders, although a few dozen were encountered along the way, including a few families with young kids on their bikes. Don't miss the opportunity to ride this one! And, if you can, help or encourage the quick completion of the segment that will continue north into Wisconsin. "
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