Check out the trail map

The Old Plank Road Trail is a 22-mile long paved rail-trail that connects the towns of Joliet, New Lenox, Frankfort, Matteson, Richton Park, Park Forest, and Chicago Heights. Click on the map to go to the Old Plank Road Trail (OPRT) map page to view an enlarged copy of the latest 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.
Trails for Illinois Trail rules Trail rules photo by Jim Nugent - October 27, 2014 photo by Jim Nugent - October 27, 2014
Looking east from Campbell Ave. in Chicago Heights. This will be the new eastern end of the OPRT.
Looking south where the new extension of the Thorn Creek trail leading to 26th Street and Sauk Trail Woods Preserve ducks under the railroad bridge over Thorn Creek. This is about a quarter mile south of the new eastern terminus of the OPRT shown above.
OPRT trail extended east to Chicago Heights September 2015: Work is underway to extend the OPRT on the eastern end another mile and a quarter. The new pavement runs east from Western Avenue in Park Forest to Campbell Avenue in Chicago Heights. The new eastern end of the OPRT connects with the Thorn Creek Trail (see the next story). Thorn Creek Trail Work is underway (September 2015) on the Thorn Creek Trail system on the eastern end of the Old Plank Road Trail (OPRT) 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. The 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. Trail tour 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.
Wildlife along the trail A bald eagle was spotted in the Dewey Helmick nature preserve between Central Avenue and Richland Avenue on 27 October 2014. 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. The creek is about half way between Governors Highway and Cicero Avenue, 200 feet east of the Centennial Path sidepath. The limbs got hung up in the chain link fence so the beavers were not able to use the lumber to dam the creek and raise the water level. Trail Patches are available 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 Will County.

Get your Old Plank Road Trail

patches at:

Sugar Creek Visitor Center 17540 W. Laraway Road (3/4- mile east of Route 52) Joliet, Illinois open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. or call 815-727-8700.
Ribbon Cutting • New trail section connects OPRT with Thorn Creek Trail The IDNR and Forest Preserve District of Cook County plan to have a ribbon cutting celebration November 1, 2015 at 1pm where the new eastern extension of the OPRT meets the new Thorn Creek Trail. One-half mile south of Route 30 on Campbell Ave. in Chicago Heights.
Old Plank Road Trail A 22-mile recreation and nature trail in northeastern Illinois