I intend on biking to Starved Rock State Park this summer. Do you guys just use Google Maps or is there a better resource? I'd swear I saw a thread about this years ago but find nothing on Chainlink currently. I'm new to the world of bicycling overnights but not new to long rides. I've never been on the I&M Trail. Any pointers or advice is welcome. The photo is my bike and trailer, so that is about as much as I can carry.
Here's my trip report from a bikecamping trip to Morris a couple of years back.
Another option, instead of going to Joliet: take the Illinois Prarie Path:
I've made this trip several times, going to my home town of Peru near the end of the I&M Trail.
If you can do the trip without the trailer you have a couple of options:
1. Take the Blue Line 'L to Forest Park end of the line. This is adjacent to a parking lot that leads right to the start of the trail.
2. If you don't want to ride back to Chicago, continue on the trail to the end of the trail in LaSalle and then go north to Mendota. There's an Amtrak train that accepts carry-on bicycles to return to Union Station.
One caveat: portions of the I&M canal are badly damaged and not easily bikeable. The federal government gave Illinois this as a "gift" but no money for maintenance, so it's really going downhill. Make the trip soon, before it's completely shut down.
Did this last summer. Here's all the info, route, cue sheets etc. (from Joliet Metra)
I'm planning on heading out to bikepack to Morris and then down to Starved Rock this summer as well. I live in the Western burbs as well and I've found a route that will go from my house to Waterfall Glenn using the DuPage southern branch. From there I can hook into the I&M trail and then work my way down. Overall, it's roughly 60 miles one way. So yeah, not sure if I can push that all in one day or not, but time will tell.
I live fairly close to the Plank and I&M trails so getting started wasn't an issue. Coming from the city getting to the trails is a challenge, but they just completed the Cal-Sag trail connection a couple of years ago which will get you from Alsip to Joliet via all trails.
Once you get to the I&M it's a nice ride, but some sections were wiped out a few years back and haven't been rebuilt. Mostly some bridges. Some have nicely marked reroutes, some are still pretty rough. If you're taking the rig in the picture, there's one particular section out near Ottawa that still had a pair of 2x4's you straddled across. Okay for a person and a single bike, but not for a trailer. But you could disconnect the trailer and get it across. I just wanted to warn you in case you had a child with you.
Here is a link to my ride around the top section of Illinois on the Grand Illinois Trail a few years back which details some of those bad sections through that area.
Enjoy the ride!
LMAO. I remember those 2 x 4's that you have to cross, over a very sludgy stream as I recall. :)