Kishwaukee-Kiwanis Trail


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Kishwaukee-Kiwanis Trail Facts

States: Illinois
Counties: De Kalb
Length: 4.5 miles
Trail end points: Lions Park and Greenwood Acres Drive and Sycamore Road
Trail surfaces: Asphalt
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6015739
Trail activities: Bike, Inline Skating, Wheelchair Accessible, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

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Kishwaukee-Kiwanis Trail Description

The Kishwaukee-Kiwanis Trail winds through the northern Illinois town of DeKalb, coursing along a river, through woodlands, among open spaces through parks and through suburban back yards. The trail passes along the east side of Northern Illinois University campus and is a popular route for students commuting to and from campus.

Parking and Trail Access

Park at Hopkins Park (1403 Sycamore Rd.) or the neighboring ballfields at the end of Oakwood Avenue. You may be able to park at the NIU campus off Kishwaukee Drive across from Anderson Hall (and at other places on campus) but restrictions may apply. For more information, contact campus parking services.

Kishwaukee-Kiwanis Trail Reviews

The NIU Campus is a beautiful place to bike and explore. Lot of street crossing and tough trail markings. Most of ride is out in the open- little shade

We parked at Lions Park (parking, playground, no bathrooms)on Taylor Street. The path begins directly across the street just north of the parking area.

The scenery is wooded and although you are never far from a road, the environs feel fairly secluded in this first stretch, with nice views of the river and some swampy areas.

Caution! Just south of the Elks building, we encountered a car on the path! It was a grey compact, heading south.

After the easy ride through the mostly flat swampy area of Prairie Park, you will pass through the disc golf course and go around a corner.

The path ends on an uphill. Go uphill a couple blocks and turn left at the bike path sign. You will go a few blocks on the road, then under a narrow bridge and then get to Lincoln Highway. Once you cross here, turn left and catch the path as it heads into Northern Illinois University, where you will pedal past lovely ponds and fountains and a strange sculpture you can climb. Watch out for goose bombs on the path.

After a long, straight, flat stretch along a channelized portion of the river, you pass WNIJ and go over a bridge and proceed to the sanitary processing plant (you'll smell it) and on into Hopkins Park, which is beautifully packed with trees.

When you reach the County Club, turn around and do it the other direction to make a 9 mile ride.

What I really liked about this path was that it is quite flat so no huffing up hills, and the great variety and number of wildflowers we saw. It's very pleasant to follow the path of the river, which was low and clear. The many bridges provide good views and are fun to cross. There are many benches along the path.

The path is not too wide so I found a bell helpful for when overtaking walkers, especially those with dogs. This is a fun, easy, scenic path that I would recommend for anyone. Bring your golf discs and stop for a round : )

The only problem with this trail is about a 1 1/4 into it from the Lions Park trailhead, the trail ends and you must travel by surface street about 5-7 blocks to resume the trail. You share a narrow underpass with cars and must cross a busy state highway, w/light. The news is that the city has approved and acquired funding to connect the trails by following the river and a planned underpass of the Hwy. This should be done by spring 2015.


Great walk! Much to see and many families on the trail. Good inclines and much water. I walked it last evening and there is shade! Lots of wildlife and many pets. Pet owners are very considerate in keeping pets on the leash. There are options to this trail as well. The City has done a good job in resurfacing many paths and the upkeep is commendable. A Great path for a 60+ old guy. Come try it, you won’t be disappointed!

Went at the end of April after all the big rains and the path was in pretty good shape. Only down side of the path is there really isn't a lot of shade so on a hot day, there is little respite.

We started the trail from Hopkins Park which has a full service pool with a really great kiddie pool area (waterpark quality). The trail also runs north and west along a rail trail. Follow the trail west out of Hopkins Park(towards NIU) and you will find it winds along the Kishwaukee River, which is really more of a creek or a canal at this point. Bridges to cross and nice view along the river. The map says to take a right on Hillcrest but you can actually stay on the trail and go through a park with a ballfield instead of riding on the road. You will then cross First Street and pick up the trail on the other side. A nice side trip here is to take a left and head south on the sidewalk along First Street. It will take you to The Ellwood Mansion, which is a historical site featuring the Victorian mansion of a barbed wire millionaire ( You can then backtrack to where the trail crosses First Street, turn left and again cruise along the Kish River, on an open sunny trail. You will come up along the west side of the NIU campus. Pay attention to find the trail as it crosses Lucinda. There is a tiny park there called Annie's Woods (Woodley Ave. & Miller Ave., DeKalb, Illinois 60115, Amenities park-playground). Cross Lucinda and then you will go through a section with the Kish on the west side and the infamous NIU lagoon on the east. At Route 38 you will need to use the bridge to go east and cross over the Kish River. It is a little tricky picking up the trail again as it is not marked but if you stick close to the river and drive through some parking lots and around some buildings in the next few blocks you will pick up the trail about two blocks south on Clifford. Here you can enter Prairie Park (401 Clifford Dr., DeKalb, Illinois 60115, Amenities: disc golf course-arboretum-pathway-open space). This is the very scenic winding part of the trail that goes through woods, open meadows, and over bridges. At the end, just cross over Taylor Street and go to Lion's Park (Lions Park 900 W. Taylor St. DeKalb, Illinois 60115 Amenities: shelter house (enclosed)-playground). Doable ride as a day trip with kids 8+, might drop of Grandma and the babies at Lion's Park and meet them later. Fun activities for friends to pick up a little history, plenty of places to get a bite to eat, especially around the NIU campus and Rt 38. Trails decently maintained, and lots of variety.

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