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Rock Island Trail State Park

Category: Parks
General Info
311 E. Williams
Wyoming,
IL
61491
Phone
(309) 695 5222

Beauty and solitude, away from the hustle and bustle of city traffic, await visitors at Rock Island Trail State Park. Stretching for 26 miles from Alta, in Peoria County, to Toulon, in Stark County, the park offers many natural and architectural attractions in a tree-canopied corridor that is only 50 to 100 feet wide.

Prairie grass and wildflowers co-exist as remnants of early rail travel along the trail. Just north of Alta, an arched culvert provides a lovely backdrop for the natural beauty of the area. At the Peoria and Stark County line, a tall grass prairie remnant provides a step back into time and allows visitors to see the Illinois that the early settlers experienced. Just a few miles from the Toulon access area, a trestle bridge spans the Spoon River between Wyoming and Toulon. A few miles further south, the Wyoming Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Depot stands as a mute testimony to the hundreds of passengers that traveled along the railway just 100 years ago.

History

The Peoria and Rock Island Railroad Company was granted a charter to construct a railroad between Peoria and Rock Island on March 7, 1867. Construction began two years later, and the first regularly scheduled passenger train passed over the Rock Island Line July 8, 1871.

For more than 40 years, passenger and freight trains rumbled through the small towns of Alta, Dunlap, Princeville, Stark, Wyoming and Toulon. By 1915, however, rail traffic through these communities began to decline, and ceased completely by the late 1950's.

Peoria's Forest Park Foundation acquired the abandoned railway corridor in June, 1965, and deeded the property to the Department of Conservation four years later. Officially dedicated in 1989, the Rock Island Trail is the first railway conversion completed by the department.

Natural Features

Rock Island Trail is in the Grand Prairie Division, a vast plain formerly covered with tall prairie grass. As the trail has reverted to nature, much of the prairie has returned.

North of Princeville lies a dedicated Class B Nature Preserve with abundant native grasses and flowering perennials. Fourteen acres have been restored to native prairie at the Kickapoo Creek Re+J56creation Area. Hardwood trees and wildflowers can be found along the streams and rivers which cross the trail.

Facilities and Activities

Improved access points to Rock Island Trail are at Alta, Wyoming and Toulon. Hikers, bikers and skiers will enjoy more than 26 miles of uninterrupted nature. Parking, water and pit toilets are located at access areas. Parking only facilities are located at Dunlap (on Parks School Road) and Peoria/Stark County line (North Cedar Bluff Road, 00N). Where the trail intersects the small towns along its route of city streets and sidewalks, directional signs are utilized.

The park office is in the Chicago Burlington & Quincy Depot located in Wyoming. The Depot serves as a visitor center/railroad museum and is a mute testimony to the hundreds of passengers that traveled along the railway just 100 years ago. Since the Depot is open as staffing is available, we ask that you phone ahead if planning a visit. (309) 695-2228.

Only non-motorized traffic is allowed on the trail, and equestrian use is not permitted.

Camping

The Class D (primitive) camping area is located between Alta and Dunlap in the Kickapoo Creek Recreation Area and is accessible by trail only. Facilities include pit toilets, fire pads, picnic tables, picnic shelter and water. There is a self-pay camping station located off of Fox Road at the overnight parking lot.

Transportation

The Rock Island Trail State Park stretches from Alta to Toulon, encountering Dunlap, Princeville and Wyoming along the way. The park office located in Wyoming can be reached from I-80 and I-74.

If traveling I-80, approximately 12 miles west of Princeton, take Rt 40 south. Continue south to Rt. 17. Turn right (west) on Rt. 17. Drive approximately 7 miles to Wyoming. At the 4-way stop in Wyoming, turn left (east). Drive 3 blocks, and you will see the water tower on your right. The park office is located ½ block past (east of) the tower in the Railroad Depot. Park office is located at mile #20 on the trail.

If traveling I-74, at the northwest corner of Peoria, take Rte 6 north to Chillicothe exit (the outer loop 474 turns into Rte 6 north at the junction of I-74). Drive to 3rd exit-'Allen Road' exit. Turn left (north) onto Allen Rd. After approximately 1 mile, the road will curve to the left, follow the left curve. You will be driving through Alta at this curve. Drive 7 tenths of a mile past the curve to Rock Island Trail parking lot on the right (north) side of Alta Rd. This is 'Mile 0' of the trail.