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The sprawling Constitution Trail covers nearly 42 miles throughout the Bloomington-Normal area. The trail was officially named and dedicated in 1987 in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the United States Constitution. The first completed segment opened to the public in 1989, and since then, the trail has grown from the original rail-trail built on the corridor of the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad into an impressive trail network spanning across the region with several small gaps yet to be filled in.
The Illinois Central Branch, the main spine of the trail, begins at Croxton Avenue and Indianapolis Street and travels northward through an industrial area. The pathway takes you by the Beer Nuts production plant, where you can visit the company store of the famous Bloomington-produced snack. Shortly after passing through the Washington Street tunnel, you’ll come to the Atwood Wayside trailhead with a covered picnic area, water fountain, and parking area.
The tree-lined trail continues through a mix of residential and forested areas. Along the way, be sure to read the historical markers with stories of the rail corridor’s past. After crossing the bridges over Emerson Street and Sugar Creek, you’ll pass under the historic Camelback Bridge: its distinctive shape allowed the tall stacks of wood-burning locomotives to pass under it. The wooden bridge is the oldest surviving structure associated with the rail corridor.
A couple of blocks farther, you’ll come to the Allers Shelter Wayside and Connie Link Amphitheater park, where the Bloomer Line Branch of the trail heads east. This 4-mile section of trail travels through peaceful neighborhoods and shopping areas. Along the way, the trail passes by several parks with pleasant side paths to take in the scenery. Three miles in, you’ll arrive at Tipton Park, which features an expansive path that takes you through ponds and a lush prairie habitat. About a mile farther, the Bloomer Line Branch comes to an end at the edge of town on Towanda Barnes Road.
Continuing north on the Illinois Central Branch from the Allers Shelter Wayside/Connie Link park takes you to the center of the trendy Uptown Normal district near Illinois State University (ISU). This neighborhood features several local shops and restaurants just off the path. The Collegiate Branch of the trail begins here, heads through the ISU campus, and connects to Heartland Community College. The trail also runs along Fairview Park and an adjacent golf course, making for a tree-canopied mile-long section.
The Illinois Central Branch continues out of the Uptown district along a forested corridor, becoming more and more rural. At the edge of town, you’ll pass by Rosa Parks Commons, a vast open field with a playground, restrooms, water, and parking. A mile later, you’ll intersect with the Northtown Branch of the trail at Northtown Road. This 3-mile section heads east along the road-way and loops around a neighborhood surrounding a large pond.
The Interurban Branch is the westernmost section of the trail network. The West Route 9 Wayside trailhead is located on 1400 North Road, just west of the Mitsubishi Motorway (US 150). The trailhead features plenty of parking and a large map to help guide your journey. The first 2 miles of the Interurban Branch are largely rural along the tree-lined path. When you pass under I-74, things begin to change into a more industrial feel. After passing over Goose Creek on the modern trestle, the trail parallels West Washington Street for a stretch, then zigzags across and over railroad tracks into Alton Depot Park. The trail continues alongside an active railroad line for just over a mile before stopping at East Lincoln Street. Turn left (east) here and the trail will pick up as a wide sidewalk on Lincoln Street (just past Bunn Street) until this section ends 0.5 mile later at McGregor Street.
The Southtown Branch of the trail begins at the intersection of Fox Creek Road and Historic US Route 66, merging for a time with the Route 66 Branch. This section continues along Hamilton Road until Bunn Street. After a short gap, the trail picks up again at the intersection of Commerce Parkway and Hamilton Road, but you can access the trail by traveling on Rhodes Lane, then turning left onto Morrissey Drive and continuing on the wide side path at Hamilton Road. The trail briefly shares a boundary with an active railway, forming a rail-with-trail segment. The trail then turns north, passes beneath Hamilton Road, and briefly follows a small creek on its way toward Ireland Grove Road. A loop trail that circles State Farm Lake can extend the trip by roughly a mile. During the day, employees can be seen enjoying the outdoors.
The trail crosses Ireland Grove Road and loosely parallels Arcadia Drive. Like the previous section, it offers a few sweeping turns. A short spur leads back south to parking along North 1200 East Road. When the trail approaches East Lincoln Street, it crosses over to the northern side of the roadway and follows the wide sidewalk along it. At South Hershey Road, you can go north to access parking and facilities at Rollingbrook Park or continue east on the trail. Here, the trail separates from the road and meanders briefly along a small creek and then through nicely kept neighborhoods before it joins White Eagle Drive. It remains a separated trail for another 0.5 mile, where it ends at Streid Drive.
As its name implies, the Route 66 Branch follows the famed US highway from Bloomington southwest past the small community of Shirley. Northeast of Normal, there are three more discontiguous sections of Old Route 66 trails in McLean County: Towanda Route 66 Parkway, Lexington’s Route 66 Trail, and Chenoa Route 66 Prairie Trail.
To reach the Atwood Wayside trailhead on the southern end of the Illinois Central Branch: From I-55/I-74, take Exit 160 for US 150. Head east on US 150/W. Market St. In 1.1 miles, turn left onto N. Hinshaw Ave., then take the second right onto W. Locust St. After 1.5 miles, turn right onto N. Robinson St. Four blocks down the street, the trailhead’s parking lot will be on your left, just past E. Monroe St.
To reach the northern trailhead of the Illinois Central Branch at Kerrick Road/County Road 1850: From I-55, take Exit 165B for US 51 Bus. N/N. Main St. and head north. In about 1.25 miles, turn right onto Kerrick Road/CR 1850. The parking area will be past three warehouse driveways on the right side.
There are numerous other trailheads for this extensive trail system throughout the Bloomington-Normal area; click our "View Trail Map" button on this page, for more information.
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