My maiden voyage on this trail happened on October 11, 2012. It was a gorgeous fall day and I was the only one out on the trail.
Riding my Trek 3700 mountain bike, I found this trail to be nearly perfect for my riding style at the time. Yes, it is grass-covered in spots, it has some muddy spots following a wet spell, and some critter damage here and there - something that seems to be a constant on the few hard-packed trails I've ridden over the years. With that being said, I found this rail trail to be quite pleasant. After all, I got a mountain bike so I could get off the pavement. If I wanted a paved riding experience, I would have chosen the Lowell Parkway Path a bit to the south.
Bordered by farm fields, it still provided a nice ride due to the trees along the right-of-way for most of the distance. In summer, it is quite shady for the most part.
The parking area off Judson Road is plenty adequate in my opinion, with the exception of the lack of at least a Port-a-Potty. The third-tree-on-the-left seems to have acquired an odor.
Fast forward to November 16, 2016...
Having ridden this trail at least once annually since 2012, this day allowed a bit different experience for me. This day, I rode my FatBike. The larger tires certainly did smooth out the ride considerably, even though a FatBike is not really necessary.
Earlier in 2016, I found a Port-a-Potty at one of the crossroads and that was a welcome sight, but by this time of year it had been removed - Major Bummer. I would think that a Port-a-Potty at each end of the trail would not be too much to ask for. After all, Polo and Woosung are pretty much out in the middle of nowhere, and if one drives any distance, a bit of pre-ride relief is a welcome thing.
Four years later, the trail condition is pretty much the same. I did notice that the Joe Stengel Trail signs have disappeared for the most part though (I've been in contact with the Park District about that and even volunteered my services to assist in reworking the signs and getting them planted, with no results).
I did notice earlier in the year 2016 also that they had a dedicated parking area in Woosung, which is nice. I feel better parking in a grassy field than alongside the road.
One thing you may wish to pay attention to, is that they now allow All-terrain vehicles on the trail. I don't know if that's a good thing, or a bad thing, I haven't encountered any yet and I haven't seen any signs of damage to the trail due to ATV's.
All in all, this is still one of my favorite rail trails to date. It's the closest trail to my home and it provides a pleasant riding experience. I really enjoy seeing the songbirds and playing tag with grasshoppers along the way.
I've only ridden bikes on this trail, so this review is limited to that viewpoint.