SPRINGFIELD - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced the opening of the final 12.1-mile segment of the Hennepin Canal Parkway State Trail - a new north-south segment extending from the Hennepin Canal feeder line’s Bridge 56 on Illinois Rt. 92 south to the Feeder Basin. The new trail segment completes 93 miles of paved trail for bicycle riders and pedestrians that are part of an historic 104.5-mile linear parkway in Rock Island, Bureau, Henry, Lee and Whiteside counties in northern Illinois.
“The completion of the Hennepin trail system is a real plus for families, bicycle riders, runners and hikers of all ages looking for a safe place to enjoy spending time outdoors,” Gov. Blagojevich said. “Recreation and tourism are important components of my administration’s Opportunity Returns initiative, and the Hennepin Canal Parkway is truly one of our state’s premier recreation destinations, benefiting residents and visitors alike.”
Built in the early 1900s as a commercial waterway, the 96-mile Hennepin Canal has for many years been a diamond in the rough for trail users. The new 12.1-mile segment is the last of a series of five bike trail construction projects that now connect, via the canal's tow path, communities including Bureau Junction near the Illinois River, Colona near the Mississippi River, Rock Falls on the Rock River and Sheffield near canal’s Summit Pool.
In all, more than $17.3 million in trail projects have been completed on the Hennepin parkway, all of which have included federal transportation enhancement funding administered through Illinois Department of Transportation.
The Hennepin trail system now includes 93 miles of surfaced trail for bicycles, 73 miles of equestrian trails, 172 miles of hiking trails, and 90 miles of snowmobile trails. The main stem of the Hennepin Canal Parkway State Trail is part of the 500-mile Grand Illinois Trail and forms a segment of the northern Illinois route of the 6,800- mile coast-to-coast American Discovery Trail.
The new bike trail complements the Hennepin Canal Parkway’s fishing, camping, boating, and canoeing opportunities, managed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. For more information on the Hennepin Canal Parkway State Trail, contact the site office in Sheffield at 815/454-2328.