The Hennepin canal, Illinois and Michigan canal, and Old Plank Rail Trail make for a great summer outing. Whether you ride a bicycle across the entire width of Illinois by following these trails or whether you ride a 5 mile section of the trail, the trails can make for an epic ride or just a fun family outing. The I&M canal trail has a nice section that is not that far from Chicago starting around Channahon—in the Channahon area, there are two locks, a locktender’s house, and the trail goes over a bridge over the DuPage river. Rather walk than ride? Want to cover the distance of the entire Hennepin canal trail? The Friends of the Hennepin offers group hikes of 3 to 5 miles on the 2nd or 3rd Sunday of each month. The “Hike the Hennepin Challenge” has been developed by the Friends of the Hennepin Canal as an opportunity for everyone to get to know the Canal personally by hiking the entire canal (including the Feeder Canal) in small sections. You need not be a member of the Friends to join them in any of the hikes. Wherever and however you enjoy the canals, they provide pleasant scenery, a little history, and best of all, they are mostly (if not entirely in some sections) free of road intersections.
Lock and locktender's house on the I&M Canal as it appeared in 1936. Photo from Kapsch, R., Canals, WW Norton and Library of Congress, 2004. The canal originally had a lock on either side and the barges went through the Dupage river here; on the canal trail today a bridge allows you to cross over a dam in this area.
Editor - Jim
This blog weighs in on topics such as long-distance skating, the Illinois canals, cycling, and a variety of related (and occasionally not-so-related) topics. I'd like to correspond with others interested in skating the Hennepin and I&M canals.