Best Rail Trails Illinois: Accessible and Car-free Routes for Walking, Running, and Biking

Publisher: FalconGuides

The railroad hub of America is one of the best states for rail trails

The new second edition of the book is available in spring 2023. 

Whether you’re into cycling, hiking, running, in-line skating, cross-country skiing, or horseback riding, you’ll find plenty of trail options in Best Rail Trails Illinois.

At more than 300 pages, the book gives you:

  • A complete description of each trail, including its scenic attractions, plants and animals you may see along the way, and cultural attractions like museums and historic sites.
  • Descriptions of amenities on or near the trail, like parks, restaurants, bars, ice cream parlors, sleeping accommodations, and kid-friendly destinations.
  • A map for each trail showing starting and ending points, camping options, mileage, restrooms, and towns along the way.

The book includes:

  • 346 miles of trails that run alongside rivers and canals
  • 23 trails that take you to museums or major historic sites
  • 16 trails that are more than 20 miles long
  • 11 trails with camping options along the way
  • 32 trails that visit major parks
  • 188 miles of trails in southern Illinois
  • 124 miles of trails in central Illinois
  • 360 miles of trails in the Chicago area
  • 176 miles of trails in northern Illinois, outside the Chicago area

Want my top trail recommendations?


Reviews and comments about the book

“This guidebook is packed with up-to-date and historic information.”

—Amazon reviewer

From the foreword to the second edition:

“No matter if you’re walker, cyclist, a runner, this unique guidebook by Ted Villaire provides a wealth of information for everyone to use when planning their next adventure. With useful details, practical tips, and recommendations related to over 40 rail trails in the Land of Lincoln, there’s no lack of adventure awaiting you!”

—Dave Simmons, executive director of Ride Illinois

From the foreword to the first edition:

“Whether you’re looking for peace and solitude, adventure and exploration, or a good workout, this guidebook will point you to the best trails in the state. Ted Villaire spent many months exploring the full bounty of Illinois rail trails in order to create this essential resource. I imagine you can get a pretty good overall impression of the state by visiting all the trails in this book.”

—Bev Moore, former president and acting director of the Illinois Trails Conservancy