Saturday, August 22, 2015

Biking Old Plank Road Trail in DuPage County

The Old Plank Road Trail logo of the trail demonstrates its former and current uses and appears on signs at all road crossings and trailheads. Prairies and wetlands are traversed and trees often border both sides of the trail, making for a scenic ride. Occasional subdivisions line the route as it travels 22 miles from eastern Joliet to New Lenox, Mokena, Frankfort, Matteson, Richton Park, and Park Forest. In 1849, a plank toll road was proposed to help farmers get produce to market and avoid the muddy, rutted, slow roads of the area. Railroads, however, proved far superior and the plank road was never built. The trail has 128,000 users each year.

Mile markers chart your progress and signs label all road crossings, and there are a lot of them since this was a surface rail route. Many are subdivision streets and easy to cross, but some busier roads are crossed and not at intersections with traffic signals, so delays for traffic to clear should be expected. Directional signs point to the numerous schools and local parks that abut or are near the trail. I started at the western end at Park Road just north of Washington Street. Plans for this trail began in 1988 and the trail opened in 1996. The American Discovery Trail uses this corridor as it crosses Illinois.

Occasional wetlands are obvious and are a break from the green foliage framing most of the trail. Beyond this wetlands is one of the subdivisions springing up. The trail is asphalt and in good condition, but speed training would not be encouraged due to all the road crossings. Their website offers maps and trail info.

Enjoy this beautiful trail!

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