BIKING 

McHENRY COUNTY'S

PRAIRIE TRAIL

 

This 25.9 mile trail begins at the McHenry County line south of Algonquin and heads north to the Wisconsin border near Genoa City, with a new extension around Genoa City connecting to the Hebron Trail.  It is paved from Algonquin to Ringwood and then is crushed limestone on the original railroad ballast. At its south terminus it becomes the Fox River Trail which in turn connects to the Great Western Trail, the Virgil Gilman Trail, and the Illinois Prairie Path, making a continuous trail of well over 100 miles.


 

Though the trail is mostly flat, the section through Sterne's Woods in Crystal Lake between Lorraine Avenue and Hillside Road is very hilly. A three mile mountain bike trail runs the perimeter of the 120 acre Sterne's Woods and four more miles of mountain bike trails are available in the adjacent 150 acres of Veteran Acres Park. The Prairie Trail is run by the McHenry County Conservation District and connects the communities of Algonquin, Lake in the Hills, Crystal Lake, Prairie Grove, McHenry, McCullom Lake, Ringwood, and Richmond.

 

 

In 1987, the tracks were removed from the old Chicago and North Western RR, allowing for the south end of the Prairie Trail's creation, and as seen here, the trail's northern segment runs along active tracks, making this trail one of only a few which follows both an old right-of-way and an existing one. Here Patti crests one of the many rolling hills with farm fields to her left. You also pass a sod farm and a tree nursery.

 

 

North of Ringwood to the Wisconsin border, the trail is crushed limestone on the original railroad ballast. You pass many farm fields, pass through the town of Richmond, and go by the MCCD's Glacial Park, a 2200 acre jewel with prairies, savannas, marshes, a bog, kames, and Nippersink Creek. No biking is allowed in Glacial Park except on the road, but many marvelous hiking trails may tempt you to stretch your muscles.

 

download a map of this trail