The Great Western Trail

I hesitate to tell you about this because much of what makes the Great Western Trail so great is how few people seem to know it exists. It’s the Illinois Prairie Path’s under-utilized northern brother. The trail is about 15 miles long, picking up near the old train station in Villa Park and dropping you off on the Elgin Branch of the Prairie Path near the Timber Ridge Forest Preserve (west of Carol Stream).

The Great Western Trail is flat, gravel, and straight. With very limited and easy street crossings, and even less pedestrian use, it’s pretty easy to zone out on this trail.


Great Western Trail

Unfortunately the relative lack of use also brings a lack of amenities. There are no bathrooms and no water locations west of Lombard, which is also the last place people really seem to use the trail.

The landscape varies from tree rows to swampy prairie and little else. There are also plenty of places along the trail where poison ivy thrives, so you should definitely look closely when you stop off the trail for any reason. Thankfully, the trail doesn’t get as rutted as the Prairie path, but this is only due to less frequent use. Their compositions and frequency of maintenance are very similar.

I like the Great Western Trail best for when I want to do a longer ride and I don’t want to see other people (or I really want reward Culver’s).


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