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The Pecatonica Prairie Trail, formerly known as the Pecatonica Prairie Path, is a 14.3-mile rail-trail extending from the western edge of Rockford to N. Farwell Bridge Road west of Pecatonica. The crushed limestone-surfaced route is predominately rural, passing through a landscape of farmland, wetlands, meadows and woods. The trail is paved where it passes through the hearts of the small villages of Winnebago and Pecatonica.
The trail follows the old right-of-way of the Chicago and North Western Railway, now owned by Commonwealth Edison and used for electricity transmission. It is also the longest northern component of the Grand Illinois Trail, which is one day planned to connect the Mississippi River with Lake Michigan.
In Stephenson County, the trail remains undeveloped with a grassy surface. Trail users may continue on the corridor west to the edge of Freeport, but mountain bikes and hiking boots are recommended. This 13.5-mile section is targeted for improvement in the future; eventually, it will connect directly to the Jane Addams Trail in downtown Freeport.
Access to the Pecatonica Prairie Trail is from several country road crossings. Parking can be found on local streets, but trail users are advised to abide by local parking laws. Parking is also available in Sumner Park in Pecatonica off W. 1st Street. There is a small lot off Main St, just south of E. 2nd Street.
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