Family Bike Ride Fun on the Kickapoo Rail Trail
Where your family can take a bike ride together in Champaign County
Champaign-Urbana is full of “happy trails” to walk, hike and bike on and now there’s another one to add to the list.
The first phase of the Kickapoo Rail Trail– a 6.7-mile stretch that begins in Urbana and ends in St. Joseph- is now complete and open to the public.
The trail, which follows the former CSX railroad, will eventually extend 24.5 miles from East Urbana to Kickapoo State Park.
Lisa Sprinkle, a marketing director for Champaign County Forest Preserve, says a trail like this is a valuable community resource for numerous reasons.
“Trails transform places – trail networks can deliver smart transportation, strong economic growth, healthy people, a flourishing environment and social equity,” Sprinkle said.
“They create healthier places for healthier people. Trails improve quality of life by preserving open spaces and creating recreation opportunities. Trails create safe, alternative transportation corridors for rides of all ages,” she added.
We asked Sprinkle some questions about the trail and what people might want to know before heading out. Her answers are listed below:
What is the trail made of? Is it paved? (Would it work for training wheels?)
The trail is a crushed limestone surface. This surfaced is used for trails a lot because it holds up well under heavy use and can complement the aesthetic of the natural landscape. It can also accommodate nearly every trail user (with the exception of inline skaters) if crushed and compacted properly. There are asphalt approaches to the crossroads, making it safer to stop.
Are there bathrooms and water available? Bathrooms and water are not available along the trail. At the western end of the trail is the Urbana Walmart and the eastern end is downtown St. Joseph, so those amenities are available for visitors to purchase and/or use.
Is there a lot trees (i.e. shade)? There are several trees along the trail providing shade for people and additionally there are long stretches of the trail where there isn’t a lot of shade. It’s a very good mix.
Any specific tips for families bringing kids to the trail? We ask that you please stay on the trail and obey signs and signals along the trail. There are 9 crossroads along the trail, all are marked with stop signs. Also please share the trail, it is a multi-use recreational trail so there will be walkers, runner and bicyclists on the trail at the same time. Slower visitors should stay to the right and people should pass on the left after giving a warning. Pets are allowed as long as they are on a leash.
Wondering how to access the trail? The Champaign County Forest Preserve District gives great instructions here. A brief summary of how to access the trail is also listed below.
Accessing the trail in Urbana
Walmart welcomes visitors to the store from the trail in an easy to access spur along the north edge of the parking lot. Bike racks are available on the northwest corner of the store. Parking to access the trail is allowed in the outer westernmost parking lot.
Weaver Park welcomes all visitors to this east-Urbana park. Weaver Park serves as a primitive trailhead facility providing limited parking, picnic tables, portable restroom, bike rack and trail information. Family-friendly access to the trail is recommended at Walmart.
Accessing the trail in St. Joseph
Kolb Park is a family friendly park on the west side of St. Joseph that offers many amenities. It is an official trail head for the KRT with only a half block walk to access the trail. Watch for improvements at the park over the next year thanks to a Recreational Trails Program Grant. Kolb Park is located at the corners of W. Sherman and N. Elm Streets in St. Joseph. Kolb Park Map Visitors can also park in downtown St. Joseph.
More tips from the CCFPD
For your own safety and to make your trip more enjoyable remember:
- Parking is not allowed on County roadways that intersect the trail.
- Park only in designated areas.
- Please do not block private driveways or agricultural access areas.
- Keep your car locked and valuables hidden from sight.
- Do you have your necessities on your person such as keys, water, pet leash, kid’s needs, etc?
- Do you have your bike lock with you?
- Check with local agencies to determine proper parking areas or requirements.
- No overnight parking is allowed.
- In some cases, you may park your car at a local business: be sure to request permission ahead of time.
- Make note of mile markers or street crossings during your visit in case of emergency.
- Never leave pets in your car no matter how short your visit may be.
- If you have an emergency, please call 911.