Walking in Joliet
I did it! I finally finished walking the entire Old Plank Road Trail, a twenty mile bike and walking trail converted from an unused railroad line. Actually, I walked the entire trail both ways, since I would drive to the trail, walk a mile or two, and always had to walk back to the car!
I resolved to walk this entire trail back on Day Five when we walked the trail’s eastern starting point. My husband and youngest son have walked most of this trail with me, so it was fitting that they were with me today.
This part of the trail is entirely in Joliet, Illinois. The area goes through some pretty dense forest, under Briggs Street (complete with extensive graffiti), and near a cemetery and a few businesses. The trail ends at a Will County Park District parking area with some benches and a restroom. This spot is near the famed Route 66; I didn’t know until today that there’s a Route 66 Bike Route.
As I’ve been walking and writing about this trail, I noticed some discrepancies about its length. The Old Plank Road Trail website (linked above) states the length of the trail at 22 miles, Traillink.com follows suit at 22 miles, and the Will County Forest Preserve website has the length at 21 miles. Not a big deal, one mile could easily just be a rounding difference, right? But there’s more to it…
I’ve been taking note (and pictures) of the posted mile markers along the way all year. We ended our most westerly walk, before today, at approximately Mile 19.5; I figured we had at least 1.5 miles to walk to reach the end. However, when I looked at the map, it just didn’t look very far.
It wasn’t. The last mile marker is 20.1, and the trail ends right after that marker. To make a long story short, we drove 30 minutes for an awfully short walk, so we took a few pictures, walked back to the car and drove to a nearby trail for a second walk.
Postscript to Part I: When we got home I input the intersections of the trail’s beginning and ending points into Google Maps, clicked the little biker icon, and, trusting Google and my own judgment, determined that the trail’s length is 20.2 miles. Here’s the thing: the same folks that posted all of those mile markers, including the final one that says the trail is 20.1 miles long also posted on their website that the trail is 22 miles long. I found it rather humorous.
I’ve walked several trails in the Joliet, Illinois, area: Wauponsee Glacial, I & M Canal National Historic Corridor, Centennial, and today’s Old Plank Road Trail. Every time I read about any of these trails, the Joliet Iron Works Historical Site is either mentioned as a nearby trail or that it serves as a junction. Today we went to see it.
It was neat.
I’ve never been to the Roman Ruins, but today I dubbed our walk the Joliet Ruins, because all of the hundred year old iron works’ structures are crumbling. We don’t usually get to see such interesting sites trailside! (We also got a lovely view of the Joliet prison!)
Signs along the trail explained what happened in each “building”and included a bio of the type of worker that would complete that part of the iron works’ process. They also had signs posted for a cell phone tour, giving you the option to call in and hear recorded messages about the sites. I haven’t seen this before, but I’m guessing this type of thing is becoming more and more common at tourist sites.
Postscript to Part Il: I took WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge: Curves and posted my favorite picture from the Joliet Iron Works. Check it out here.
Good day, good walk–both parts!