The Chainlink

So I'm trying to plan a little bike trip for this summer. I want to ride some of the I&M Canal because, well, it sounds nice! Of course, you have to get through the suburbs first. I've plotted what I think will be an okay route to the start of the I&M Canal in Joliet, but I'm unfamiliar with most of the roads out there, so I'd love some advice from anybody with more experience. Where possible I'm taking advice from the Route 66 Trail Guide, but it doesn't seem to use as many trails as it could (then again it's almost five years old). I have a map from the Cook County Forest Preserve that makes it look like you can take the Centennial Trail all the way from Willow Springs Road to the Will County part of the trail, which takes you to Joliet, but Google Maps doesn't agree (not that they're always right). If anybody can confirm or deny that it'd help a lot too, although I could probably figure that out on a little bike adventure with a Metra assist.

 

Anyway, here's a link to the route. Thanks for looking!

http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/28024658

Views: 1040

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

That looks like a great ride. My only suggestion would be to consider Cermak instead of Ogden when passing through Lawndale into Cicero. Cermak is freshly paved and buttery smooth while parts of Ogden resemble the surface of the moon.

Doesn't look to be a bad route except you'll be going through some terrible neighbourhoods.  Here is a map of a ride to Joliette I did, but I started a bit north of you:

 

http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=4006788

Also, 26th is much smoother and faster than 25th passing through Cicero.

I've ridden the trail from Willow Springs to Joliet several times. Note that only half of it is paved (from Willow Springs to the Spring Bridge). After the Spring Bridge, you have to ride over the canal and pick up the trail on the other side, where it is mostly crushed limestone to Joliet. I would recommend either a MTB or cross bike, but a heartier road bike with strong wheels should be fine (a carbon frame might not). The I&M canal trail from the Spring Bridge to Joliet is wonderful--you end up at the ruins of the Joliet Iron Works, which is totally surreal and usually deserted. I ride the Centennial Trail frequently, and I generally see three or four other cyclists at most and a couple pedestrians walking dogs. The ride from Willow Springs to the bridge is prairie, woodland, riverside, then wetlands. Heaven. !2 and a half miles each way with only one mile on an industrial road, otherwise you will never have to put a foot down.  I drive out on I 55 south to LaGrange Road South, then Archer South to Willow Springs Road. You can either turn right on Willow Springs and park in the lot at the Columbia Woods or continue on Archer through Willow Springs road, turn right past the 7-11 and follow the road around and across the tracks to the main lot at the trail head, where there are bathrooms and picnic tables. If you start at Columbia Woods, you get more of the open prairie, which is great in the spring when the prairie flowers are in bloom. If you start at the trail head, you will ride the I & M trail along the canal, then cross the Des Plaines River to join the Centennial trail. There is also a Metra station right at the trail head, and you can take your bike there on the train. Here is a link to the Cook County Forest Preserve information about the trail, which also provides a map:

 

http://www.fpdcc.com/tier3.php?content_id=68&file=map_68d

you're riding right past the forest preserve in Palos. That park is one of the best places to ride! I suggest taking a lunch break in the park before you get on the canal path, it'll be your only chance to climb some and descend some fun hills.
What's Archer Ave (to Willow Springs) like for riding?  That looks somewhat direct
I'd avoid Archer during rush high traffic times. I rode it to Palos on a Monday morning and it was fine. The ride home at 5 was hellish.

JeffB said:
What's Archer Ave (to Willow Springs) like for riding?  That looks somewhat direct
Archer between Western and Cicero is terrifying in a car.

Thanks for the great advice everybody; it helps to hear from folks who've ridden out there. Seriously, this is why the chainlink is so awesome.

 

@Moc: it's a steel touring frame with 32mm tires and pretty strong wheels. I may put some cross tires with more tread on there; we'll see. Which bridge is the Spring Bridge? I can't find any references to it online. That's the Cook County map I've been looking at; Google Maps doesn't include the whole Centennial Trail so I wasn't sure who was right. Good to know it's all there and working.

 

@envane: thanks for the route; that's excellent info! How was Wolf Road? That's one of my bigger question marks since I'm deviating from the Route 66 cue sheet and Google Maps there.

 

Once again, thanks everybody for your input!

Sorry, I meant to say Swing Bridge. It's a historic bridge at Schneider's Pass and a landmark at the end of the paved trail, at 135th Street. It was once the functioning bridge over the Des Plaines River, but is now ridden over only by bicycles. Here is some info:

http://www.reconnectwithnature.org/preserves-trails/Centennial-Trail

 

Note that the parking information on this link puts you at the END of the paved trail (at least from the Willow Springs perspective), but also at the beginning of the unpaved path to Joliet. I wouldn't miss the stretch from Willow Springs to the bridge, though, because it is really magnificent riding. Your bike sounds perfect for both legs of the trail.


Dan Ciskey said:

Thanks for the great advice everybody; it helps to hear from folks who've ridden out there. Seriously, this is why the chainlink is so awesome.

 

@Moc: it's a steel touring frame with 32mm tires and pretty strong wheels. I may put some cross tires with more tread on there; we'll see. Which bridge is the Spring Bridge? I can't find any references to it online. That's the Cook County map I've been looking at; Google Maps doesn't include the whole Centennial Trail so I wasn't sure who was right. Good to know it's all there and working.

 

@envane: thanks for the route; that's excellent info! How was Wolf Road? That's one of my bigger question marks since I'm deviating from the Route 66 cue sheet and Google Maps there.

 

Once again, thanks everybody for your input!



Dan Ciskey said:  

@envane: thanks for the route; that's excellent info! How was Wolf Road? That's one of my bigger question marks since I'm deviating from the Route 66 cue sheet and Google Maps there.



Wolf is fine south of Ogden and used by a lot of cyclists in the area.

I ride the trail quite often myself between Rt 83 and the south end in Joliet and would not be afraid to ride a road bike out there.  Just watch for the potholes on the section that puts you on the industrial road near Lemont.

 

As far as the neighborhoods in Joliet, I don't worry about it.  I ride through Joliet during the day or night and haven't run into any problems with unsavory characters. I just ride aware of my surroundings and honestly I get a little more nervous riding the path at night compared to the street. 

 

If you've see someone on a red Salsa 29r that's me. This year I'll probably be riding my Pugeot that I converted to a CX bike and towing a trailer with the little one to get my miles in. 

RSS

© 2008-2016   The Chainlink Community, L.L.C.   Powered by

Disclaimer  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service