Rails into Trails
Photo by Ed Ahern
America’s railway age — when train tracks criss-crossed the country and Chicago was their Midwestern hub — left behind a long-lasting legacy in the western suburbs. Today, the steel tracks are gone but the tree-lined pathways that tunneled through the suburbs remain, much to the pleasure of those who love to stroll, hike, jog or ride along them on crisp autumn days.
Close to 60 miles of trails sweep through Cook, DuPage and Kane Counties, as out-of-service tracks built by the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin Railroad have been transformed into the Illinois Prairie Path. Further west, stretches of the 65-mile Fox River Trail run alongside the Fox River and pass through forest preserve sanctuaries alive with wildflowers and migratory birds.
Along either trail, the one-time mill towns, farm settlements or train depots have become vibrant, pedestrian-friendly downtowns, with shops, cafés and restaurants just a hop, skip and a jump off the well-worn paths.Edit Module