THE VIRGIL GILMAN
The Virgil L. Gilman Trail includes two railroad
right-of-ways and runs from Montgomery, IL west 11.5 miles to Waubonsee
Community College at Route 47 in Sugar Grove. It was constructed by the
Fox Valley Park District and the Kane County Forest Preserve District and
is named in honor of Gilman, who served 30 years as director of the Fox
Valley Park District and who fought to expand public access to the Fox River
from the 66 feet available in 1946 to the 30-plus miles open today.
Much of the trail heading northwest from
the Jericho Road/Elmwood Dr. parking area in Aurora is framed by trees as
seen above, and some runs through lovely forest as at Bliss Woods. Just
before the college, a wide meadow of prairie plants is crossed. The trail
also takes you past Blackberry Farm's Pioneer Village and water park, Bliss
Woods Campground, occasional residences, and several trailheads with parking
areas (follow link to map below for locations). Don't be surprised if you
hear gunshots as you near the college. The Aurora Sportsman's Club's shooting
range is just south of the trail.
This old wooden plank suspension bridge is
an interesting artifact from the past, and just beyond it is an ultra-modern
bridge over Orchard Road, providing a real study in contrast. The trail
is nearly all asphalt except for a short section near the college alongside
a corn field as well as the eastern-most mile and a half or so.
Dave and Patti cross this old truss railroad
trestle over the Fox River. A closed pedestrian crosswalk is alongside,
another testament to life in another age. The eastern three miles travel
past a cemetery, though a residential area, and by some wetlands before
ending in an industrial area. There is a half mile section separating the
eastern and western sections, interrupted by another industrial area, and
the trail was poorly marked when we did it (a sign was missing). To avoid
wandering as we did -- when heading east, turn left at Terry Street, proceed
to the first right turn, head east, and watch for the trail's continuation
into Copley Park on your left just after crossing the railroad tracks.