Kankakee River Trail


16 Reviews

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Kankakee River Trail Facts

States: Illinois
Counties: Kankakee
Length: 10.6 miles
Trail end points: Davidson's Creek (Bourbonnais) and Rte. 102 and Byron Rd. (Wilmington)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt, Crushed Stone
Trail category: Greenway/Non-RT
ID: 7981187

Kankakee River Trail Description

The Kankakee River Trail is fairly wooded and runs primarily through Kankakee River State Park. Walkers, bicyclists, and cross-country skiers can enjoy more than ten miles of trail along the north bank of the river between Bourbonnais and Wilmington in the southwestern suburbs of Chicago.

Approximately 3 miles on the east end of the trail is crushed stone, while the rest is paved. Trail-goers looking for more of a challenge will like the hill climbs on the west end of the trail.

An equestrian trail is available on the south side of the river from April through October. Beginning in late January, after a good snowfall, snowmobilers can also use the south-bank trail.

Parking and Trail Access

West-end parking is off Route 102 between Byron and S. Chicago roads. East-end parking is at Davidson's Creek in Bourbonnais. Or, you can park in Kanakakee River State Park (5314 Illinois 102, Bourbonnais), which is approximately the half-way point on the trail.

Kankakee River Trail Reviews

great ride

Rode the gravel part of this trail first. Nice trail. Then road the paved section about 7.5 miles. Very nice, with curves and hills. Mostly shaded. Great trail to ride.

Road biking: just ok

Started from the Bourbonnais side and did the entire thing as a loop. There's about three miles of crushed limestone which turns out is the most predictable part of the trail. The rest is asphalt, but it's just… ok. This entire trail is "just ok".

Let's start with the asphalt: it's not great. It's not terrible, but it's got some really bad root upheave throughout. There are a handful of actually dangerous potholes in there as well. Because so much of the trail is partially shaded it can be difficult to spot any of the rough spots (if it was fully open or fully shaded your eyes could adjust, but the dappled light makes it impossible to ever fully acclimate).

Then there's the overall design of the trail. While it has some interesting hills and turns, they're often innundated with blind curves. Even some of the straight sections have overgrowth encroaching on the trail making this even worse.

Finally this trail is seemingly used by people who don't seem to have a lot of shared trail experience. People walk on both sides of the path. Announcing yourself will have people moving in lots of unpredictable directions; instead of moving to the right, they may act startled and actually move LEFT. One person who knew I was coming up and I approached very slowly from behind didn't even acknowledge me – instead they just started, very slowly, moving to the left side of the trail until they were OFF the trail. On shared paths you want every person to move predictably. This was not a thing on this trail apparently.

What this adds up to is that you end up having to constantly be on extra high alert and you're not going to be going very fast. You'll maintain a medium speed, and any time you really want to push it, the conditions of the trail will quickly make you dial it back.

The scenery was ok. Some good glimpses of the river, but nothing dramatic. A lot of similar looking woods. A few breaks in the woods as you go through the park system, meaning picnic shelters and overlooks. No real meadows or fields or even sections right up next to the water. The trail did provide good shade from the sun, so if it's a hot day, this trail should be fine temperature-wise.

The crushed limestone section was the best part of the trail, primarily because it was (as mentioned above) the most predictable. Far less traffic. No weird asphalt cracks / root upheave / holes to deal with. They were fine even on my narrow 700x23 tires.

This trail is really designed for recreational riders, and it's fine for that. If you want to go faster look elsewhere. Probably decent for a recovery ride. Not worth a longer drive than 30 minutes unless you're already in the area.

So happy to have this nearby. Lots of things to enjoy along this trail when you're in the main part of the park.

So happy to have this nearby. Lots of things to enjoy along this trail when you're in the main part of the park.

nice ride

Lots of rolling hills and turns along the Kankakee through parks. Lots going on in the area. I rode from the trailhead to the end and back in about 2 hours.


Instant favorite!

Instant bike trail favorite! I've been putting two wheels on northern IL paths for about 30 years and covered quite a few trails in the upper third of the state. For some reason this one never registered though, until last year when I found it listed on this website. The trail seemed on the smaller size (mileage) for my liking and at 1.5 hours away, it didn't jump to the top of my list. But the other day we decided to make our way down and give this one a shot. An hour later we were very glad we made that choice!

The KRST trail is short in length, but looped, it's a decent ride for any biker. There are several places along Rt 102 to park and hop on, or you can pick it up from the main park entrance. We decided to park in the main park entrance so we'd have access to the bathrooms once we finished.

The trail is a beautiful, canopied, zig-zagging ride that carves through forested areas sculpted along the Kankakee River. An all-asphalt path, which has some pretty nice hills that take you from bluff-top to river-side in a heartbeat and back up again. Just west of the main parking area is a suspension bridge that spans roughly 75 feet over a river filled canyon with high rock walls and beautiful views. This is without a doubt the finest view in the park. The trails also feature several other bridges, rock formations, and terrific forestry.

Despite the relative shortness of the trail, this park is worth its weight in gold. Rarely in northern IL will you get these types of views and rewarding scenery. Make your way over and give it a whirl!

New Favorite Trail

This trail has a little bit of everything! Our family parked at the Davis Campground trail head. There was plenty of parking, a picnic area and a restroom at that location. The first 3.6 miles of the 10.6 mile (each way) trail is crushed rock - so I would not recommend that portion for folks with road bikes. The rest of the trail is asphalt which is in good condition. The busy sections (through Kankakee River State Park) are divided with markings for left/right traffic. There are some hilly sections, but there's nothing too tough and 90% of the length of the trail is shaded by a lush tree canopy. Some of the highlights of the trail include a suspension bridge, multiple lookout spots along the river - and some really fun twisty turning sections that keep you focused and alert behind the handlebars! Our family stopped at the suspension bridge where there is walking trail access to river below. Below the bridge there are rocks to climb on to explore the clear river water and it's many fish. To make a day of it, bring lunch to enjoy at one of the many picnic/lookout areas along this beautiful and well maintained river. Just a great day of exercise, nature observing and family fun! Highly recommend.

Kankakee River Trail Ride

This is a fun filled ride along the beautiful Kankakee river. The new walk or bicycle only bridge, crossing the river near Riverside Hospital is a real plus.

s bruns

We went to visit my son in Wilmington and rode the Kankakee River Trail for the first time. We started at parking lot A where we rode through a beautiful forest of oaks, maples and hickories. Then we rode through the state park and over scenic bridges and stopped at scenic overlooks of the river. The trail is hilly in places but my husband and I are 67 years old and we had no difficulty pedaling up the hills. We rode to the end of the trail and back to the starting point which is about 20 miles. Even though the weather was perfect, the trail was not crowded. We will definitely be going back!

Nice Nothern Illinois Trail

This trail is a pretty good shorter trail. I rode it in June, so views of the Kankakee River (which runs close to the trail) were limited because of the dense vegetation. But still, there are great wide-open views of the river in the State Park area, as well at as the Warner Bridge area, west of the park (the park has a great viewing platform right next to the trail that sits high above the river, great for photos). Be aware that there are some steep grades on this trail in spots. The section of the trail that I rode (from the state park westward) was completely paved and pretty smooth. There are nice brick washrooms in the State Park, right next to the trail.

Just like a roller coaster ride.

This trail was great and will become one of our favorite ones to ride. Some steep hills but a rush when going down them, a couple of narrow bridges so you will have to watch out for other traffic, there are some stop where there are picnic tables and areas where you can see the Kankakee River on your ride. I highly recommend this bike trail but some areas have steep hills so small kids may have problem. The only problem we had was when coming around curve a lot of people took up the whole path so almost ran into them.

Lovely trail, check for flood conditions

Lovely trail, but I only got to see a part of it, perhaps 3 miles.

The Kankakee River had overflowed its banks when I was there last week (7/15/2015). Eastern and western ends of the trail were inaccessible. The eastern ends had a sign warning of washouts. I did not go through to see how bad they were.

A Saturday afternoon ride on the Kankakee River Trail in June.

There are several places to park but the one I was most comfortable parking at was the main lot that contains the park office, concession stand, and visitor center. It's where the suspension bridge is too. We rode the trail to the northwest first and then came back and rode the trail to the southeast. From this parking lot, the northwest portion is all paved (about 6 miles). The southeast portion is mainly crushed limestone (about 4 miles). There's a lot to see including many views of the Kankakee River, the state park campground, and some bridges. This is a great place to combine bike riding with a picnic as there are plenty of picnic tables. By riding the trail in both directions, we put in 20 miles of riding this day. The concession stand was closed as well as most of the restrooms along the trail. There was a restroom open at the main parking lot.

Very nice Scenic ride

If you like nature and riding through the woods, this trail is for you. Very scenic 10 mile ride. (One way) Trail is a mix of crushed stone and some pavement. There are several hills along the way so get ready for some pedaling. Not too bad though. Will definitely be going back for more.

Great Trail

This is a great well-maintained trail. We rode on a Sunday afternoon in September and we only encountered a few other bikers/walkers the entire time. There are some hills, but our 10-year old child was able to keep up with no problem. Lots of wildlife and a very peaceful ride. There is plenty of parking in Lot A off of Route 102.

Kankakee River Trail

This is one of the most scenic trails that I have been on. I absolutely love it. Very pretty forest scenery especially in the fall when the colors, the river and the rock outcroppings are fantastic. The Rock Creek area is a real gem. It's pretty cool to ride over the suspension bridge.

The one problem that I have with this trail is that there is not enough of it!! Why doesn't it connect to the City of Kankakee? I believe there is a path behind the Perry Farm. Why doesn't it connect to the Wauponsee Glacial Trail that goes up to Joliet? Does one have to risk one's life along the narrow and winding Route 102 to get from one trail to the other (yes)? Gain some easements from the land owners and put a path along Rt 102. This will then become a more heavily used trail.

Great for leisure or exercise

The Kankakee trail is among my favorite in Northern Il. It is very scenic throughout its 10 miles. Because of the tree cover, this is a great trail on a hot day or even a windy day. There are also some challenging hills that provide great exercise. This is a low traffic trail with the exception of the area by Rock Creek which attracts a lot of people due the scenic views. Even within the state park itself, traffic is seldom an issue. You really get a feeling that you are away from civilization. Great trail and great scenery.

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