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The eastern segment of the Great Western Trail in Illinois follows 13 miles of an abandoned railway corridor through DuPage County, between Villa Park and West Chicago. There are plans to extend the eastern segment of the Great Western Trail west of Route 59. The Chicago Great Western Railway (later Chicago and North Western) was called the Corn Belt Route because it linked Chicago, Minneapolis, Omaha and Kansas City. Today, the crushed limestone trail provides access for cyclists, walkers, joggers, equestrians and cross-country skiers.
You can link the east and west segments of this trail—in a long, roundabout way—by continuing on the Illinois Prairie Path where it meets the Great Western Trail (just west of Prince Crossing Road). Take the Illinois Prairie Path north and west to Elgin, where it meets the Fox River Trail. Cross the river and take the Fox River Trail south and west to the River Bend Trail (a.k.a. Silver Glen Trail), which meets up with the Randall Road Bike Path. Head south to LeRoy Oakes County Forest Preserve, where you can join the western segment of the Great Western Trail.
At the western end of the trail (West Chicago/Winfield), parking is available at Klein Creek Farm Forest Preserve and Nature Center on County Farm Road, south of North Avenue and St. Charles Road and north of Geneva Road. A north/south trail that runs along the west side of County Farm Road connects both the Illinois Prairie Path (IPP) (Wheaton-Elgin branch) and the GWT. Klein Creek Farm is about 0.25 mile south of the GWT and about 0.75 mile north of the IPP.
Great trail that has over 80 geocaches hidden. Perfect way to enjoy the trail
It is true this trail can be too sunny and it is lined by power lines, bisected by some busy roads. But it has enough forest, lakes and nature to make it worth while, especially as part of a loop with Prairie Path or route to other suburban trails (Salt Creek for one). There are some sections that are quite scenic. It is a half block from my house, some I am biased, it has saved my sanity for 30 years.
There are less crossings than the Illinois a Prairie Path and less crowded so you can safely stretch your legs more. I also like the “wild-ness” of it, lots of blackbirds, prairie and wetlands. My only suggestions would be to go when it’s cool out and not too windy. Combined with the Prairie Path it makes a nice loop!
Nice faster trail with less crossings, best ridden early in the morning or during cool season. Also better done with the wind to your back! Plenty of blackbirds and other prairie wildlife.
Unlike its superior sister trail to the west, the GFT-D falls short. While living in Wheaton for years I rarely gave this path any of my time. It was sun-baked, not the best kept and didn't offer any of the scenery that its sister trail does in Kane County. In all honesty, I would recommend avoiding this path and making your way west to the 'better' segment. Or test both out and come to the same conclusion.
Linking to west segment is easier now. No need to go to Elgin. Exit Prairie Path at the Stearns Road trail just past Route 25. Go west over Fox River and head south on Fox River Trail to Silver Glen trail. West on Silver Glen (big climb out of valley!) to Randall Road then south to LeRoy Oaks and then join the west segment of GWT!
I biked this trail for the first time over the weekend and I enjoyed it. I biked from where the trail intersects the Elgin Branch of the Prairie Path back east to meet up with the Salt Creek Trail. The trail covers quite a bit of distance while only having to cross a very small number of major road intersections, and at least one of the major intersections has a good selection of places to stop, eat, and rest. The only downside was that I was surprised at the lack of water fountains - the Prairie Path has water fountains, particularly in Lombard, and I didn't see a single one on the Western Trail. However, since I came prepared, that wasn't much of a problem. I found the trail to be well maintained and a nice ride.
Nice ride overall.Travels mostly through residential and commercial areas.Parallels power towers for most of the trail.Crushed stone mostly in better shape than asphalt.Trail signs by county near Prince Crossing is confusing and the two other trails there are closed.Nice if they had signs about that before you get there.Went from Villa St.to Prince Crossing and back.
"At the western end of the GWT (West Chicago), parking is available at Klein Creek Farm Forest Preserve and Nature Center on County Farm Road, south of North Ave. and St. Charles RD and north of Geneva Rd. The north/south trail that runs along the west side of County Farm RD connects both the Illinois Praire Path (IPP) (Wheaton-Elgin branch)and the GWT. Klein Creek Farm is about .25 miles south of the GWT and about .75 miles north of the IPP."
"The Great Western Trail - DuPage Cnty runs in a very, very straight line from just west of Prince Crossing Road in West Chicago (I.P.P. (Illinois Praire Path) Wheaton-Elgin Junction) to Villa Park (I.P.P. Wheaton-Maywood Junction). The G.W.T. runs parallel to St. Charles Road. Since the trail has been recently changed over from the rails, it is quite open as opposed to the tree lined and tree tunneled I.P.P. Although there are fewer road crossing than the I.P.P., the trail/road intersections are quite busy and two road crossings force you to go to the adjacent traffic signals along St. Charles RD. 98% of the trail is crushed limestone. Bridges over 355 and Finley road. The G.W.T. has almost no traffic west of Lombard, so hitting your top speed is YOUR problem. Because of its North West/South East direction, early rides east and late rides west get blinded by the sunshine. There is no support along the trail, so be prepared for your own repairs. The G.W.T. east to Villa Park, the I.P.P. west to Wheaton I.P.P. Northwest to the G.W.T. (Elgin Branch) is a great triangle ride if you can stand the stopping along the I.P.P. for cross streets, shopping, eats, support, etc. Enjoy the ride!"
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