Planes, Trains, and a Bike Path
I had to pick up my son from O’Hare International Airport this afternoon. I decided to leave a little early and go for a walk just west of the airport on the Salt Creek Greenway Trail. The Salt Creek Greenway is a 25 mile trail that runs through eight suburbs (that I counted), connects to many other trails, and spans across Cook and DuPage Counties. I only walked on a short portion in Wood Dale, Illinois.
I didn’t plan my parking very well and ended up parking at a Target and walking mostly through an industrial park and under large power lines. With the air planes descending and Metra tracks crossing the trail, it definitely gave the walk an industrial and transportation theme.
I did walk into a portion of the Salt Creek Marsh Preserve. It was really nice, but I ran out of time and had to head back to the car and on to the airport.
On my way back, I spotted an adult great blue heron. He looked like he was hunkering down trying to stay warm while watching the ducks swim calmly by him.
I was struck by this heron’s dark feathers and head plumage. I think he must be more mature than most of the herons I saw over the summer and early fall. I wished that I could have gotten closer to him or caught him in flight, but I had to keep moving in order to get to the airport.
I think with a better parking spot and more time, I would enjoy walking here again in the future–even if it’s after 2013 and the end of my official walking resolution.
History of Rails to Trails
I knew that the Old Plank Road Trail near my home was constructed from an old railroad line. Once I started walking it more frequently and writing about it here, I learned of the “Rails-to-Trails” movement, mostly from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, which I have recently joined.
Today, we checked out the Illinois Prairie Path, one of the first railroad lines in the country converted into a public trail. May Theilgaard Watts, a naturalist, wrote to the editor of the Chicago Tribune in 1963 and suggested the unused railroad line be turned into a “footpath.” Her letter started a movement that set a precedent for others in the country to do the same.
This trail is about sixty miles long with several branches and connections to other trails. We drove to Elmhurst, Illinois, and parked near the trail. We didn’t walk very far, because my son wasn’t feeling well, but we walked enough to notice how popular this crushed limestone trail was with runners, bikers, and other walkers. We also spent a little time exploring the town of Elmhurst and enjoyed that as well. Although it’s a bit of a drive from our home, we’d like to come back and check out more of this classic trail!
Good day, good walk!
Rails to Trails
For my walk today, I headed back to the Old Plank Road Trail, a twenty-one mile paved trail converted from an unused rail line. I haven’t been walking here in awhile, because the un-walked parts of the trail are getting farther from my home as I head west. I am committed to walk this entire trail though, so I planned ahead to tie it in with some errands and made it work today.
I walked from Mile 11.2 and 13.2 and back. Right away I noticed the recent controlled burn along the trail. This is common practice in these prairies, and I even passed a burn in a county forest preserve on my drive over.
I was surprised that remains of the railroad line were still next to the trail every place the trail curved. The rails were gone, but the wood ties were still there (and now partially burned). I liked seeing the old ties. It really brought “rails to trails” to life for me.
I took WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge-Color today on my walk as well. Find it here!
Good day, good walk!
Time of Walk: 9:30 AM
Temperature: 26° F (wind chill 16°)
Weather: Mostly cloudy (I missed the sun!)
My son’s still on holiday break, so the two of us bundled up and drove a few miles to a trail that our family has been biking on for years. This trail is 22 miles long and was reconstructed from an abandoned railroad line in the mid-1990s.
We parked at JC Penney, walked behind the store to the trail, and headed east for a ways before turning around at an overpass and heading back. On our walk we saw a runner and a few other walkers. One of these was a reader-walker–you know, someone who reads a book while walking. (By the way, we have a reader-walker who goes by our house daily, only stopping occasionally to pull out a highlighter and mark something. I have no idea how these people keep from tripping.) I was surprised to see a reader-walker on the trail in January, I must admit.
I noticed more litter and graffiti than I’d have liked. We had a good walk though.
After we returned home, I looked up the history of the trail. Of note: In the mid-1800s, it took the railroad 6 years to construct the railway, but it took 20 years for the various government agencies, biking groups, and wildlife crusaders working together to take it apart.
Thankfully, they got it done.
P. S. One more sign along our walk: