Check out the trail map
The Old Plank Road Trail is a 22-mile long paved rail-trail that connects the Illinois
towns of Joliet, New Lenox, Frankfort, Matteson, Richton Park, Park Forest, and
Click on the map to go to the Old Plank Road Trail (OPRT) map page to view an
enlarged copy of the trail map.
Using the menu at the top of the pages you can find out more about special trail
events, about the animals and plants you’ll see along the trail, and about the
conversion of a railroad property into a hiking and biking trail. From 1855 until
1975 the Michigan Central Railroad ran freight and passenger trains along this route.
Before that it was a plank road and part of the Great Sauk trail that ran from Rock Island to Detroit.
New I-80 bridge for OPRT
MAY 2017 --The state of Illinois is installing a new
bridge over Interstate 80 for the OPRT. The trail crosses
I-80 near OPRT milepost 17.
Thorn Creek Trail
The Old Plank Road Trail now connects with the
Thorn Creek Trail system in Chicago Heights.
Contractors recently graded and paved a new section of
the Thorn Creek Trail extending it south along Thorn
Creek to 26th Street. The new trail section connects with
trails in the Cook County Forest Preserve District Sauk
Trail Woods preserve. Another section of the Thorn
Creek Trail, paved in 2014, runs north from the new
eastern terminus of the OPRT starting near the
intersection of Campbell Avenue and Hickory Street in Chicago Heights. It
follows the creek northeast to Joe Orr Road where it connects with a much
older section of the Thorn Creek Trail. Another section is under
construction connecting Glenwood with Brownell Woods sections of the
Thorn Creek Trail.
Get the Adobe Acrobat PDF map of Thorn Creek Trail from the Cook
County Forest Preserve District.
Take a tour of the Old Plank Road Trail (OPRT) without leaving your
computer. Click here to go to the photo tour.
Park Forest Railfan Park
Dozens of north-south trains cross over the Old Plank Road Trail at
Matteson while dozens more run east-west on the former Elgin, Joliet and
Eastern tracks that parallel the OPRT about a half mile to the south. The
Matteson METRA station platform is also a good train viewing location.
Click here for more CN-Connection info. Click here for pictures of some
recent trains passing the Park Forest Railfan park.
Trail Patches are
Earn a patch for completing the 20-mile trail
in one trip or several smaller trips. Patches
are full color, embroidered, and 2.5 inches in
diameter, and ideal for sewing onto vests or
backpacks. Patches sell for $3.00 each and
come in two styles: hiking and cycling.
Payment is accepted by cash or check made
payable to the Forest Preserve District of
Get your Old Plank Road Trail
Sugar Creek Visitor
17540 W. Laraway Road (3/4-
mile east of Route 52) Joliet,
open Monday through Friday,
8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. or call
A bald eagle was spotted in the
Dewey Helmick nature preserve
between Central Avenue and
Richland Avenue in April 2017.
There’s also evidence of beavers
having trimmed some trees that
have grown up in the fence where
the Old Plank Trail crosses a small
creek in Matteson.
OPRT bridge over I-80 in New Lenox - looking west
New bridge over I-80 from milepost 17 - looking east