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The popular Rock Run Greenway Trail is a balanced mix of natural areas and cityscapes that alternate over the length of the trail. The natural areas are frequented by recreational users. The cityscapes provide a pleasant and safe link between neighborhoods, schools and businesses.
The principal natural areas are Theodore Marsh (at the northern end), Rock Run Preserve (between the street crossings at Essington Road and Black Road), and Colvin Grove Preserve (between the airport and junior college). The principal cityscapes are at the small Joliet Airport, the Joliet Junior College, and alongside a few city streets.
The main trail is entirely paved, although there are short alternate sections of crushed rock at Theodore Marsh and Rock Run Preserve. There are four small parks and rest areas in the northern section of the trail; one, near the southern trail end.
At its northern end, the Rock Run Greenway Trail connects with the Joliet Junction Trail; at its southern end, with the Illinois & Michigan Canal State Trail. Together these three trails form a popular 16-mile loop.
Parking is available at several locations along the trail (from north to south):
I loved the way this trail alternates between city and parkway. You ride for a bit near the noise and bustle of the city, then you breathe deep and enjoy a stretch through nature. Back and forth it goes from one end to the other. The forest preserve lands are really nice!
I especially liked the area around the old quarry pond at the Black Road station. I walked the delightful section of crushed rock trail there, out through the tall grass and marshland. Then a sit-down to rest on a bench by the pond. Pinch me. I think I'm dreaming.
It would really be nice if there were a trail west on Black Road to Hammel Woods and the DuPage River Trail. That's another great area I like to visit.
This is a great trail for a family ride or just heading off on the bike.
I started on the "Rock" from the I&M Canal at Houbolt and rode up to the trail head on Essington Road. The entire trail is paved so easy riding for anyone, especially kids just learning to ride.
There are a couple of road crossings, most are traffic controlled (stop sign or light); however, one of them, the Black Road crossing is not and it is very busy and can be a bit risky - an overpass or slight reroute should be considered. It will be tough getting kids across this road (five lanes essentially).
You are riding through marsh lands and country settings. Sometimes you are along side some subdivisions. The ride behind the junior college is nice (you could park at the college and ride around, there are some side trails). This is a nice ride, pretty quite for the most part.
This is a wonderfully maintained surface and winds through wooded areas and local streets. The path is free of garbage. The wooded areas are quite nice.
The path does not have enough markings for a first-time rider. Bring a printed map to make sure you are navigating it properly.
We started off on the Joliet Junction path and when got to the south end, we rode west along the I&M Canal. This was scenic ride along the deserted Canal. The crushed stone surface was in good shape. When we met up with the Rock Run trail, we headed north. This three-part loop makes for a more interesting ride then just Rock Run or Joliet Junction alone.
I ride this trail often and it is very nice. Much of the trail is through wooded areas. Lots of wildlife. I have a few caveats about this trail.
1. Stretches of the trail are very congested with walkers with and without dogs, strollers, and children. For a purely recreational cyclist like myself this is not a problem as I like to stop and say hello to people and their dogs. Cyclists who like to go fast and get annoyed with sharing the trail with others are forewarned.
2. The map shows two ways a rider can go after crossing Theodore St. headed south. Turning west leads the rider to a trail through some woods followed by riding south along the very narrow sidewalks along the very busy Essington Rd. until reaching Ingalls St. where the trail takes the rider through a the beautiful forest preserve on the west side of Essington Rd. The map correctly indicates that turning east quickly brings the rider to a trail leading south through some woods with an optional loop along the trail ending eventually at a nice Joliet park with a parking lot. The map does not make clear that it is common for riders to choose to turn east at Theodore St. and travel south until reaching the park and then to ride along the sidewalks on the north side of Ingalls St. until reaching Essington Rd. and crossing over to the trail through the forest preserve on the west side of Essington Rd. I thought this was the actual trail until I saw the map here since there are mile markers along the sidewalks on Ingalls St.
I would urge riders to choose this path that involves turning east after crossing Theodore St. traveling south. The woods are nicer this way (although hilly - I hate the uphills but love coasting fast downhill) and I feel much safer on the slightly narrow sidewalks along Ingalls St. which is not very busy than I do on the very narrow sidewalk along Essington Rd. which is very busy.
3. The connection between the Rock Run Greenway's north end and the north end of the Joliet Junction Trail is very clear. The connection between the south end of the Rock Run Greenway and the I+M Canal Trail is not clear at all. The trail seems to vanish after going under a viaduct beneath Interstate 80. If riders keep going along the west shoulder of Hollywood Rd. (which is what Houbolt Rd. is called south of I-80), they will reach the I+M Canal Trail after maybe 400-500 yards. Hollywood Rd. is a very busy road and riders should be very careful. Going a little more south than just reaching the trail leads to a nice parking lot area and a trail access but requires even more shoulder riding.
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