Usually referred to as the I&M Canal State Trail, the Illinois and Michigan Canal is a staggering 80 miles (including the Hennepin Canal Trail) following the Illinois River from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River. It was formed as a water route long ago to feed water from the East Coast to the Gulf of Mexico.
The original canal is 96 miles, but only 80 have been designated for the multi-purpose trail. The lower portion of the trail (the I&M Trail) runs from LaSalle to Rockdale, making up 61 miles of the trail. Some historic sites can be enjoyed along the way including the restored lock-tender’s house and two of the I&M Canal locks. Historic landmarks are identified with trail-markers, explaining the historical significance. There are many well-wooded areas and open prairie areas as well.
Channahon State Park is just one of the state parks passed through along the trail. Trail users will also pass through Buffalo Rock State Park, 5 miles from the Fox River Aqueduct, Gebhard Woods State Park in Morris, and the William G. Stratton State Park, also in Morris.
During the warm months, there are many designated picnic and camping sites to enjoy, as well as fishing in several areas. A mostly well-shaded trail, it is a comfortable ride for bikers, hikers, and 4-wheelers in the summer. In the winter, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling are welcome.
The trail can be accessed at the endpoint of Huse Lake, in Peru or Brandon Road and Railroad Street, in Rockdale. The last section endpoints are located on Columbia Street/SR-63, in Joliet, and on East Romeoville Road, in Romeoville.