Frequently Asked Questions
How long is the trail?
The trail, when fully completed, will be 24.5 miles in length. It parallels Rt 150 for most of the route, and spans from Main Street in Urbana to the Vermilion County fairgrounds entrance, just west of Danville.
Who owns the trail?
The trail, which is built on a retired railroad corridor, is located in two counties: Champaign and Vermilion. In Champaign County, it is owned by the Champaign County Forest Preserve District, and in Vermilion County it is owned by the Vermilion County Conservation District. The bridge over the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River in Vermilion County is owned by the IL Department of Natural Resources. The rail corridor was purchased in the winter of 2013/2014.
What uses are permitted along the trail?
The trail can be used for non-motorized, recreational uses, such as hiking, running, cycling, skateboarding, and cross-country skiing. No motorized vehicles are allowed other than for maintenance or accessibility purposes. E-bikes are currently under consideration.
What is the timeline for trail construction?
Converting an abandoned railroad into a publicly accessible off-street multi-use trail is a lot of work. From dreaming, to planning, to getting other organizations involved and figuring out who will do what, to identifying land to buy, finding the money for it, and actually buying the land, then finally building the trail itself – every step has required a ton of coordination and time. From when the first money was raised, it was still 20 years before ground broke on the KRT. But from another perspective, almost half the trail (11.3 of the 24.5 planned miles*) has been built just 8 years after the acquisition in 2014.
Vermilion County: 3.1
Champaign County: 8.2
Additional miles planned:
Vermilion County: 8.7
Champaign County: 4.5
Vermilion County: 11.8
Champaign County: 12.7
How can I stay up-to-date on Kickapoo Rail Trail construction?
Email “KRT Updates” to email@example.com and you will be added to an email list that receives periodic construction news. You can also “like” us on Facebook.com/kickapoo.railtrail and follow us on Twitter at @KickapooRT. The trail has a web presence that can be accessed from the Champaign County Forest Preserve District site at ccfpd.org.
How wide is the trail?
The trail is ten feet wide with two foot shoulders on each side. This is the standard width for new multi-use trails to allow cyclists, runners, and walkers to use it simultaneously, pass each other safely, and avoid possible conflicts or collisions.
What is the trail surface material?
The trail surface consists primarily of compacted, crushed limestone. Crushed stone is popular as a trail surface because it holds up well under heavy use and can complement the aesthetics of the natural landscape. It can also accommodate nearly every trail user (with the exception of inline skaters). Approaches to roadways that intersect with the trail will be improved with asphalt for safety and sustainability. The trail may also be upgraded to asphalt or concrete within the confines of some of the communities along the route, if those jurisdictions desire. Paved options are more expensive than compacted limestone so additional funding would be needed to make those upgrades.
Why do trees and other vegetation need to be removed to build the trail?
During the construction stage, many trees and shrubs will be removed to make the trail safe and accessible. Most of these woody plants have grown up in the years since the railroad was in use. The mowing and cutting of trees can appear devastating, and may seem the antithesis of conservation, but this is the first step in creating a corridor with more diverse and plentiful native plants and wildlife.
The native flora was primarily prairie before the railroad was built. Railroad use kept the ground free of trees and shrubs. When the line was retired by the railroad, time has allowed pioneering woody species to take over. The former railway is dominated by a small number of species, several of which are invasive, such as bush honeysuckle, autumn olive, and mulberry. These fast growing trees and shrubs can quickly create an overstory that shades out the prairie from above, and changes the soil microbial community below. The current removal of trees and shrubs within the construction limits of the trail will provide more daylight and rejuvenate the historical native plant composition along the trail.
The native pioneering tree species that are abundant along the trail, including hackberries and black walnuts will be preserved to the extent possible as long as they do not impede construction efforts.
After construction is completed, the Forest Preserve District will add to the diversity of native trees and shrubs by planting these species along the Champaign County portion of trail over time.
How can trail users gain access?
Trailheads will be constructed near both the eastern and western termini of the trail as well as at key access points along the way. Trailheads will provide ample parking plus amenities such as informational and wayfinding signage, benches, shade, and water. Trailheads will be constructed over time and may not be available on all trail sections immediately. In the meantime, users can park wherever public parking is legally allowed.
In Urbana users can park at Weaver Park, an Urbana Park District site located approximately one half mile from the trail’s western terminus, or in the northeast row of parking in the Walmart parking lot.
In St. Joseph, users can utilize public parking spaces on Main St. and E Lincoln. St. Kolb Park trailhead is currently under construction and will soon offer additional parking a few blocks west of downtown.
Visit the Access Points page on this website to learn more.
What could I see as I walk or ride the Kickapoo Rail Trail?
The Kickapoo Rail Trail traverses some of the most beautiful terrain in central Illinois. Trail users will see native prairie, wetland, two rivers (including the only nationally designated Wild and Scenic River in the state) and forested areas, along with the diverse flora and fauna that thrive within these habitats. The trail is built upon an historic railroad that carried goods and passengers across the Midwest and, for most of its route, the trail also parallels the Interurban Railroad that carried passengers from town to town in central Illinois. Interpretive signs along the trail will also tell the story of Illinois’ agriculture, as well as the journey that Abraham Lincoln rode on horseback or by buggy along and near this route while he served as an attorney on the 8th Judicial Circuit.
Visit the Nature and History Along the Trail page on this website to learn more.
Will volunteers be allowed to help with construction?
There will be volunteer opportunities associated with the maintenance of the Kickapoo Rail Trail; however, construction of the trail will be left to a professional construction firm. Volunteers will be needed to staff annual events that raise funds for the trail each year.
Individual non-profit organizations have stepped forward to host their own fundraisers for the project. Different types of opportunities may emerge after portions of the trail are completed. Persons interested in volunteer opportunities should contact the Champaign County Forest Preserve District, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are donations being accepted?
Yes! You can help build more miles of trail, by making an online donation or by mail to “Kickapoo Rail Trail” at PO Box 1040, Mahomet, IL 61853. As the Foundation is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization, all donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.
Local businesses, corporations, individuals, or private foundations that are interested in partnering in the trail construction project by making a major gift can receive naming rights based on the level of contribution. Contact Lorrie Pearson at the Champaign County Forest Preserve District for more information, at email@example.com.