Illinois Prairie Path


About Illinois Prairie Path

The Illinois Prairie Path is an exceptional trail system winding through the western Chicago suburbs. The Prairie Path was the nation’s first rails-to-trails conversion and has become an international model for recreational development.

Openlands and the Illinois Prairie Path truly grew up together, with both originating in 1963. Under the leadership of our first Executive Director, Gunnar Peterson, Openlands helped coordinate the project, advised on plans, and gained the support of the region’s decision makers. Openlands made friends among the legislators in both Springfield and Washington, plus in the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation and the Illinois Department of Conservation (now the Illinois Department of Natural Resources), both of which were vital partnerships for creating the trail.

You click on the map below to begin exploring the Illinois Prairie Path, and please note that this is not a comprehensive map of the trail system (you can find one of those here).

Illinois Prairie Path System

To zoom in and out of this map, use the mouse wheel to scroll forward to zoom in, and backward to zoom out. Alternatively, double-click on the map to zoom in or use a two-finger pinch gesture on a touchpad.

Plan Your Trip

The Illinois Prairie Path is great for a short walk, a day outside, or for long distance cycling. Consider checking it out by bike: start in downtown Villa Park at Villa Ave, head west on the main branch of the trail to the Wheaton Prairie Path Trailhead, turn north and take the Elgin Branch to Timber Ridge Forest Preserve, then when you reach the Great Western Trail, head back east to your starting point. This is a 24-mile loop and takes at minimum two hours.

You’ll pass through parks, forest preserves, and open spaces as well as downtown areas and major roads, so be careful, share the path, wear your helmet, and bring plenty of water.

For additional trail maps, safety tips, closures and maintenance information, directions, and news, please visit

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