The Illinois Prairie Path starts in Maywood then travels west through Bellwood, Hillside, Berkeley and beyond. Spanning nearly 61 miles, it is intended for the non-motorized public. Dog walkers, joggers, bike riders and even the occasional horseback riders all use the path which runs along an old railroad line. Due to its former use, it travels through numerous “old downtown” areas in the communities it crosses and offers a great opportunity to see the suburbs it touches through in a different light since some main thoroughfares no longer go through their downtown. Also, because of its nature, it has an unlimited number of places to start and stop so you will see many locals using it to get from place to place and allows you to use it for any length you want.
In an early version of things “going viral”, the Illinois Prairie Path was born out of one woman’s letter to the editor of the Chicago Tribune published September 30, 1963. May Theilgaard Watts proposed turning the abandoned rail line into a public path. “Public response to her letter was immediate and enthusiastic” and by 1966 (after overcoming many hurdles) the path was well underway and became the first U.S. rail-to-trail conversion in the nation.
Today the path is well used, appreciated, and supported by every community it passes through. A lasting tribute to a true “grass roots” effort.