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The Erie Lackawanna Trail connects Crown Point and Hammond, two former rail junctions whose early fortunes were tied to the tracks carrying people and goods to and from Chicago. Despite traveling through the densely populated Chicago metropolitan area, the trail is bordered by green space and traverses wetlands and parks along the way.
The paved path follows a railroad corridor that had been in use since the late 1800s. Conrail was the last owner, ending the line in 1986, 10 years after acquiring it from the Erie Lackawanna Railway. The oldest parts of the trail date to the 1990s in Hammond, which was first to jump aboard the idea of a rail-trail on this corridor.
Beginning in Crown Point, your trailhead is less than a mile from the city’s most famous landmark, the jail (226 S. Main St.) from which 1930s bank robber John Dillinger escaped just months before he was cut down in a hail of gunfire by Chicago lawmen. Heading north from the trailhead, your first 2 miles pass mostly wood lots, a farm field, and a golf course before you arrive at the first street crossing.
Nearly 5 miles from Crown Point, you’ll cross Burr Street and reach another trailhead with facilities. The route enters unincorporated Lake County here, where the parks department mows only 10 feet on either side of the trail surface to ensure wildlife habitat farther out from the path. In this area, you'll see a spur off to your right, which is the Turkey Creek Trail. The paved route runs just shy of a mile through the breathtaking Ivan Gatlin Nature Preserve—well worth the quick side trip.
Back on the Erie Lackwanna, head a little farther north and you’ll come to another trailhead at South Arbogast Avenue. Here, you can link to the Oak Savannah Trail, which heads east to Hobart.
In another mile, you’ll arrive at the Griffith junction, where you’ll use South Broad Street to cross several sets of tracks. Before regaining the trail, look right to find Griffith Historical Park. The circa 1911 Grand Trunk Western Railroad depot and the 1924 brick tower that oversaw operations at the Broad Street crossing were relocated to the park. From here, the path enters the denser residential and commercial areas of the near-Chicago suburbs. Expect more street crossings.
At 3.7 miles past the Griffith interchange, you’ll arrive at a trail junction; a 0.7-mile, one-way spur to the right leads to the Indiana Welcome Center, while the main trail stays left and skirts a shopping district. Taking the underpass beneath I-94, you’ll be traveling on the older part of the trail that passes through the city of Hammond and ends in 3.8 miles.
The Hammond Civic Center is 2.9 miles past the interstate underpass. In 0.6 mile, the trail meets Lake County’s 4-mile Monon Trail, which heads south to Munster. Here, the combination of the Erie Lackawanna Trail, the Monon Trail, and the Little Calumet River Levee Trail forms a pleasant triangular loop of about 10 miles. The Erie Lackawanna Trail is also in close proximity to the Pennsy Greenway, which crosses into Illinois.
The Erie Lackawanna Trail ends at Sibley Street, but a connection north is being considered.
To reach the southern trailhead in Crown Point: From I-65, take Exit 249 to E. 109th Ave. toward Crown Point. Head west on E. 109th Ave., and go 0.7 mile. Turn right onto Broadway, and go 0.5 mile. Turn left onto E. Summit St. The trailhead is 1.6 miles ahead on the right.
To reach parking at the northern endpoint in Hammond: From I-94, take Exit 71B for IN 83/Sibley Blvd. Head east on Sibley Blvd., and go 3.1 miles, crossing Hohman Ave. Look for parking on the right for the Towle Community Theatre. The trail starts east of the parking lot.
Trail was closed in a number of places & finding a ride around was impossible.
I love riding the Erie Lackawanna early in the morning. However, around Highland it needs repaving. It’s pretty bumpy and rough.
I am thrilled to share that the worst part of this trail mentioned in several reviews here has been freshly repaved as of November 2020 (from Route 30 all the way north to Colfax Street). Previously, this section was marred by huge cracks that ran across the full width of the trail every 20 yards or so. These cracks were between 1 and 2 inches wide – enough for foliage to blossom within – and were absolutely jarring to hit on a road bike. Now, this section is buttery smooth and an absolute pleasure to ride on.
This now places the worst section of this trail in Hammond north of Interstate 80/94. With the exception of the new pedestrian flyovers that cross Columbia and Calumet Avenues, the rest of Hammond's share is quite rough. Still, I enjoy completing the entirety of the trail from Downtown Hammond to Crown Point and back. When I start off in Hammond, I typically park in the visitor's lot of the Hammond Police Department off Douglas St. for some extra peace of mind with respect to my vehicle being left unattended for hours (downtown Hammond doesn't have the rosiest of reputations).
This could be an awesome trail if some repaving were done, from Crown point to tunnel where Sherrerville section starts it’s great. But from that point north it has deep cracks about every 10 or 15 feet and feels like you are riding over perpetual railroad tracks. It hooks right into the oak Savannah trail as well but you have to endure a rough ride to get there. Real shame this trail has been neglected, it could and should be a great trail
Rode it recently from highland to crown point, the solar charging station near crown point does not work, also due to covid all of the water fountains are shut off
I recently rode the trail south from Indiana Welcome Center. The pavement has developed deep bone-jarring cracks that are bad enough to potentially damage wheels. It's especially bad south of downtown Griffith. I recommend you avoid until they rehabilitate what otherwise would be an enjoyable ride.
I’ve been on this several times. I’d say the weirdest time was during July 4. We ended up getting a beer at a brewery in Crown Point. I don’t recommend it for those who want extensive workouts because it’s very flat. Still portions thru Highland can be pretty and parts South. The Northern section is in Hammond and it’s fairly close to another great Brewery called 18th Street. I still would like to find out how I could safely go to the Lake from here.
Started @ 165th in Hammond and rode to Crown Point and back. 30 miles total. My first trail in over 15 years. Loved the surroundings.
I've biked this one often because it is close to home, but I don't consider it as good as many other trails in the area. There is not a whole lot of shade on this trail, so you may want to plan to ride it on a cooler or cloudy day, or make sure to use sunscreen. There are also some very bumpy sections, especially a stretch in Schererville which they desperately need to repave. It's certainly not one of the more scenic trails, so don't expect to travel through woods and see birds and wildlife, etc. There's just not much to look at. There are also quite a few busy streets to cross so be careful if you are riding with your kids. I guess the one unique highlight this trail can claim is that there are four breweries right along the trail, or at least within a block or two (New Oberpfalz, Byway, 18th Street, Wildrose). You can also stop off at the Indiana Welcome Center, which is nearby as well.
Good ride and very easy. A couple of places weren't well marked but we found our way.Next time we will start at Crown Point.
With the stay at home orders starting to lift and the weather turning beautiful, it was time to look for some good trails near my Chicago home.
1. must be within two hours of Chicago and reachable by car.
2. the trail must be well maintained and not crowded
2. the ride should begin/end at a local brewery with outdoor seating that is currently open but managing proper post Covid precautions.
3. Good food would also be nice as I ride to eat and my daughter rides to drink!
Erie Lackawanna Trail was my first choice as Chicago to Hammond is all highway driving and only 40 minutes by car. The drive was speeded up as all city exits coming and going in Chicago were closed for BLM parades. We begin our ride in downtown Hammond with a plan to ride into Griffith which is a 8 miles away. For a longer ride, I would suggest riding to Crown Point which would be 17 miles each way. Upon arriving in downtown Hammond we parked one block from the trail at the 18th Street Brewery. The 18th Street Brewery has patio reservations that require a $15 deposit and are for 1.5 hour increments. For reservations go to http://www.18thstreetbrewery.com/hammond
This not only managed the crowds but the team at 18th Street had spent a lot of time thinking about life post Covid. An outdoor sink on the patio for proper hygiene, homemade hand sanitizer at every table, staff all wearing masks and state of the art ordering system to boot. The best part was the beers, distilled drinks and food were outstanding. I highly recommend the tacos and quesadillas. Once our time was up and our bellies were full, we unloaded the car and hit the Erie Lackawanna Trail which was well marked and well maintained. There were maps posted along the route, it was a casual winding ride past golf courses, canals, parks, avoiding most street traffic. Several large bridges along the route took us over the busier roads along the trail. Truly a wonderful day outside of Chicago and one which I highly recommend and will do again soon.
We rode most of the trail starting at the Crown Point trailhead and turning around about 3 miles short of the end. Although there are some more rural areas in the first few miles, for most of the trail you are riding through suburban neighborhoods. The pavement surface is in good shape on most of the trail but there are a few areas with regular cracks that are bumpy enough to be annoying but nothing worse than annoying. A nice improvement since the last time we rode the trail a few years ago is an entirely off road connection to the Oak Savannah trail (which is a lovely ride). On a beautiful Saturday there were a fair number of people on the trail but not enough to be oppressive. We were impressed by the number of cars that stopped for bikes at the rode crossings which less common on the suburban Illinois trails we ride most often. Overall, it's a nice ride.
Rode this trail for the first time and it has moved to the very top of my list of paved rails-to-trails in the greater Chicagoland area. We rode the entire trail from Hammond down to Crown Point and back. A lot of money and effort was spent to make the entire length of the trail a bikers dream. Not only is the pavement very wide but the builders of this trail also cleared a wide area on either side of the pavement. This gives the rider a very open feeling, lots of sun, and panoramic views of the countryside.
My stepmom lives in Crown Point and five miles from the southern terminus off Summit Road. I've done parts of the southern and middle section several times, and in June 2019 walked the entire trail over several days with my dog Zeke. What a wonderful trail.
The trail is paved the entire way. Every town it passes through is responsible for upkeep, and all towns are maintaining it well. The Hammond section had the most bumps in the trail from the many tall tree roots nearby. The Griffith-Highland section is the prettiest, with art, landscaping and dedicated trees along the way. Here you can stop and walk into nearby businesses for food and even craft beer. Nearby breweries one can walk to are 18th Street Brewery in Hammond, New Oberpfalz and Pokros in Griffith.
You do have many street crossings that are named and marked with yellow. There are two pedestrian overpasses in Hammond. The overpass north of Kenwood Avenue, though, is currently in repair and the trail detours for .4 miles around the construction, so be aware of that.
The only part I didn't like was the gritty area between 165th and 169th Streets in Hammond. It's loud and stinky there, but the north and south end of the Hammond stretch were nicer than expected.
There is plenty of parking all throughout the trail south of Hammond. In Hammond the parking is next the the Lake County courthouse parking lot which is patrolled 24.7.
There are no streetlights along the trail. The trail officially closes at 10pm but I suggest you get off the trail before dark because the rural sections get very dark.
There are no bathrooms along this entire trail. You have benches and water fountains south of Hammond.
I rode this trail to get my 100 mile ride in from Chicago. I liked it. The other reviews are true, it can be a little bumpy and there were a couple sections that could have been marked better but overall it was nice. There were places the trail seemed to split and I can’t wait to go back to explore where they go.
The Crown Point section is now GREAT! Smooth new asphalt.
However, the Schererville section is horrendous! pouring a little tar into cracks for many years has not stopped the prolific and gaping cracks!! The Griffith and Highland sections also need repaving also, still a lot of cracks. The Schererville section needs REPAVING; it's the worst.
Maybe they need to stop the snowmobiles on the trail, the quad runners, and the service vehicles from driving on the pavement!
It used to be skateable for roller blades. Now we can't even stand to ride road bikes or a recumbent trike on the trail. Wrist and rear hurting cracks that jar your teeth they hit so hard.
The Cat3 wannabe's still ride on it as there are no bike lanes in Northwest IN to be out on the streets and the people in vehicles expect you to ONLY be on a trail.
Ditto on the comments about bumpy sections. The trail could use some better signage where it deviates, and could use mile markers. Also, I suggest if you start in the north, park behind the Wendy's next to the Indiana Welcome Center along I-80. Besides the south end, that's the only restroom you will find on the trail. And watch out crossing roads...seldom will drivers stop for you.
Rode mid April, the trail is all asphalt. Parking in Crown Point was easy. Many busy streets to cross.
The trail is great for running, walking, and slow casual bike riding. If you are training for serious bike rides, I would avoid the trail between Crown Point and Griffith. The trail has serious cracks every 15 - 30ft that are harsh on a bike with 100psi tires. 17mph and the ride just hurts. The jarring is terrible.
Even before this trail connected with Wicker Park, I rode this trail often each summer, sometimes going to Griffith, sometimes about a mile short of the end, sometimes all the way to Griffith. I love this trail. I rode it for the first time in several years on 7Aug 2017, and hasn't changed much, except for a couple detours. And as a RR fan, love that it crosses Griffith Junction and with all the old cabooses, cars, etc.
About 2 miles north of Crown Point you hit the loader section of the trail . BUMPY
I did not get a chance to finish this trail because a spoke broke on my rear wheel. I am sure it was because of the first four miles of the trail on the Crown Point end. Little drop outs in the pavement, rough! I reduced the air in my tires down to 50 psi (700x38) and that made it tolerable on the return to the starting point. I learned a lesson for future trails, air down your tires when you are on a rough trail. As for the rest of what I seen, I loved it. A little maintenance and it would get my 5 star rating.
I ride this trail weekly usually from Colfax Rd in Griffith South to Summit street in Crown Point. Pavement is great with some slightly bumpy sections just North of the US 30 underpass. South side of the US 30 under pass collects water during heavy rains and the tunnel can be icy in the winter.
So nice to have a trail of decent length that goes from a minor city to another. Businesses are in close proximity, periodically throughout the tail. Nice, direct, beautiful.
Visiting from PA. We brought our bikes and before Thanksgiving feast set out to get a little exercise. It's great the trail is paved but found it a little too bumpy and the surroundings a little boring. There was hardly a soul out because of the cold weather which made it more enjoyable.
This is a great trail whose southern end from Colfax to Crown Point needs to be replaced. Bumpy ,bumpy, bumpy due to cracks in the asphalt. Bearable but needs to be repaired. Rest of trail going north is fun.
This is a really nice urban/suburban/rural trail. You can go from Summit St. in Crown Point all the way to North Hammond and never ride in traffic. Many streets have to be crossed, but really none of them are more than two lanes across, and hardly any are that busy. The trail is paved all the way too. It's a little bumpy at the surface seams of the trail north of Crown Point, and people's backyards are seen throughout, but they send to be set back from the trail. The trail tends to get crowded on weekends with imitation Tour de Francers, so be careful.
Well maintained trail. Exactly what any biker or skater would want!!!
This is a very nice trail from Hammond to Crown Point. My cycling club rides this trail with some regularity during the summer months. I find that the trail is well maintained, and there is not too much glass on Saturday or Sunday mornings when we ride it.
The pavement is rough in some spots, and particularly north of Cabela's, I choose to ride on Southeastern Avenue as opposed to riding on the trail. The farther south you are, the better the pavement and the new part around Crown Point is amazing.
Rode as part of trip from Chicago. Very nice paved trail. Only complaint is confusing turn that lost my group at levee in Highland. Short ride to terrific Oak Savannah trail.
Some of the reviews need updating. I travel this route about 4 times a week. The south end of the trail is at Summit Street in Crown Point...about a mile north of the square. The trail heads northwest to the Little Calumet River. But if you turn left at Grand Blvd in Highland and go over the tracks there is another trail (a continuation of part of the Erie/Lack Trail) which heads west under RT 41 and connects to Wicker Park Trail oval. Head north on the oval. At the north end of the park there is a trail heading straight north that crosses the river and is now paved. Head west along the north side of river until you pass a small lake on the right. The Erie/Lack trail continues there and leads behind Cabela's and under 80/94 and continues Northwest to near downtown Hammond. Just before the north end of the existing trail the Monon trail starts. That trail heads south to Munster.
Not sure whether there was a ribbon-cutting ceremony, but the overpass is open for traffic! Very nice.
It was a wonderful ride with birds and groundhog Crossing streets can be a bit tricky and with some of new options, you could end up at a dead end and have to back track. But, the landscape is wonderful and the route well maintained. I just wish I knew how long the route was for each segment. I think we went a bit too far, since the reverse trip made us eager to "stand" not sit when we arrived back home.
See, for example, here:
Was going to ride this trail for the first time today. It appears to be a fine trail, one that I would really enjoy taking round trip. Today was not the day as about two miles from the Sibley entrance going north the bridge in not is service.
I think it will be open soon as the new asphalt appears to be completely replaced. If anyone knows when the bride reopens I would like to revisit.
One more thing, according to the map there is a section between the north and south sections that does not connect. Does anyone have experience navigating between the two sections? If so could you kindly provide information on how to maneuver from the nort to south sections.
We rode this trail from Highland to the far end of Griffith and back yesterday.I have to say it's the nicest paved trail I've ever been on.
Very scenic and everyone we encountered was very pleasant.
Rode the Crown Point to US 30 segment this weekend and am so impressed. The people that are objecting to trails in their communities are some serious deadbeats. Get out of the house and stop living your life in FEAR!
Crown Point has their act together. The trail is immaculate and well groomed. They even placed a great privacy fence along the neighborhood that backs up to the trail.
the tiled plaques are at the Pennsgreen tunnel under route 30,not at erie
this wonderful inlay is in GRIFFITH,ABOUT AVENUE O,NOT AT THE UNDERWAY ON ROUTE 30.
First time on the trail and on a bike in about ten years!purchased a bike and one of the store clerks told me of the trail,and i thought it was great for a first time rider !Rode it from C.P by walgreens all the way to Griffith and back and was not bad at all!so,take the chance and ride on!!!!
I haven't ridden this trail in several years so I decided to give it a try. I rode from the north end to the south. The north end is much improved since 2005 when I last rode it. The north end goes through some rough neighborhood areas. It used to be covered with gang signs. Hammond now seems to paint over them quickly as they pop up so the punks may have moved on. The maintenance on this part of the trail is much improved I actually saw two crews working on it in Hammond something I never saw before and I used to ride this trail weekly. When the trail reaches I-94 there is a nice tunnel under the road so getting pass the expressway is easy. The tunnel takes you to behind the Cabela's Sports. From the tunnel south it is pretty straight forward until you reach a pretty good incline. There is a rough gravel road there. Stay away from it it gets way rougher and dead ends. Go up the incline be careful it is rough loose gravel too. This is where the Erie Lackwanna connects to the Little Calumet Trail. The Little Calumet Trail runs west to Calumet Ave where it ends. There is another trail about six blocks further west. East from the incline will take you to the Wicker Park trail. It is suppose to loop the park but now because of road construction it doesn't. It is also suppose to take to to the underpass to get to the east side of US 41 but as of now that is all closed. If you don't go into Wicker Park the trail takes you to US 41. This has always been a dangerous place to cross US 41 but now because of the construction it has gone from dangerous to seriously suicidal. If you can get down US 41 about a block to the traffic light you can cross there. You have to ride through a small neighborhood . Cross US41 and then take the first right to get back to the trail. You can't really screw up here because there is only one way out of the neighborhood going east. Once you go over the railroad tracks you can turn north to get back to the Little Calumet Trail going east to Cline Avenue or south to where there are some high power lines running. A branch of the trail runs under the power lines until you reach a parking lot. If you go through the parking lot in the back you can get to the Little Calumet Trail there or turn north at the parking lot and catch the Little Calumet Trail in a couple of blocks. From that point the Little Calumet trail west takes you back to the Eire Lackawanna. From the power lines south the trail is pretty straight forward with just a couple of short branches so the locals can get to the trail. The construction has this trail totally screwed for the time being. But once it is done it will be a good solid ride. Riding as I have said gives you about a 29 mile ride. The trail is starting to show it age. Someone needs to tell the trail managers that driveway sealer is NOT asphalt patch. It does NOT fix a 1/2 inch wide crack. I would give the surface a B rating no big holes . Lack of signs and map postings is a big problem. Bring your own water or drinks as places to get some are few and far between. Hammond does not and Highland provides few drinking fountains. The Little Calumet part of the connection is scenic as I saw a deer and east of Kennedy Avenue there is a wet lands area with a lot of large wading bird, geese and raptors.
This trail now starts at Court and Summit Streets (behind Walgreens) in Crown Point. This adds nearly two miles, and was just opened in Nov of 2010. At the other end of the trail -check the map - there's a right split off the trail into Highland. A little furthur on there's a left turn which goes over a hill and some tracks and under the 41?Indpls? overpass and right into Wicker Park -another 2 miles around the park, but I'm not sure if, or how, it connects to Hammond. I hope to find the connection in 2011. While this is a great trail, we find ourselves going to Hobart most of the time to use the Prairie Duneland Trail. Its cooler on a hot summer day and really pretty.
This trail is great from Crown Point all the way through Highland! It is scenic and peaceful, wide and fun. People are generally courteous and move out of the way for passing pedestrians on bikes, blades, or runners. Once you get to Hammond the track is in horrible shape, there are several bumps and dips that could easily cause you to trip and fall - or face-plant if you're on a bike. Once you get to the welcome center on Kennedy and 80/94 it's a nice soft gravel path with a nature trail, but the path doesn't connect to Calumet City. It just seems to dead end at the expressway, I'm not sure how to continue onto the next part.... Overall it is good.
"On a beautiful October morning,I ventured out on the E/L trail for the 1st time. The trail was wide, clean, & scenic. The north end was especially well groomed. the only thing this trail lacks is a water fountain along the way."
"This is a very clean, well maintained and scenic ride. The town does a great job with keeping it safe and clean for the entire family. Having a Dairy Queen very close to the trail doesn't hurt when motivating the kids to hit the trail. The residents here abide by the rules and you rarely see a dog without a leash. Excellent 3 miles of trail! "
"I agree that the construction barrier across the trail was a major nuisance and should have never been allowed in the first place, but its gone now and the trail is once again an enjoyable ride. Connectors are in the planning stages to link up nearby trail segments which will really make this trail useful over a wider area."
"Great trail until a construction company piled three and a half feet of rock and earth across the trail making it difficult to use for bikes, strollers, wheel chairs, rollerblades, etc."
This trail has a good surface and connects south to Erie-Lack trail easily. To the north the connection is dangerous on US41
This trail lacks in basic maintenance. Lots of broken glass and overgrowth of trees on trail. Much vandalism many dogs off leash on trail.
This is one of the best trails in northwest Indiana. I can't wait until it is linked to the Hammond trail. Check out www.indianatrails.org for future projects.
We use this trail all the time. Nicely paved and good for my roller blades. Needs better mile markers though. Be careful crossing some of the streets too. You will often have to wait for a train to pass while in Griffith.
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