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Illinois Prairie Path

At this month’s Pet Care Press, we’ve decided to do a feature on our namesake, the Illinois Prairie Path (IPP).

IPP serves as an amazing place to go for a run, bike ride, nature hike – or of course one of our favorite ways to enjoy it –to take one of our furry friends out for a good walk or run. Is it any wonder we named ourselves after this wonderful nature trail? We thought we would cover some specifics about the trail, like how it originated, where it goes, and of course how to best use the trail if you’re walking your canine friend. After all, as dog walkers, and runners, Prairie Path Pet Care, wants our clients in Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Lombard, Winfield or any of the many other townships. we service, to know, we care about getting dogs out into fresh air and getting a walk in. We think IPP shares that reason for existing, and so without further ado:

The Illinois Prairie Path Roots

The history of the IPP begins in 1963, when a well respected figure, at the Morton Arboretum, began lobbying for a public trail system to be adopted on top of one of the old railway easements. Though there was stiff opposition, over the next 8 years, the trail would run through several towns. The lobbyist and her team of volunteers, and supporters, were able to convince Secretary of the Interior, Rogers C.B. Morton, to designate the Illinois Prairie Path as one of the new, national trails. It was to become the nation’s first, successful rail-to-trail project. logo-contextual Over the next 20 years, with the help of dedicated volunteers, and generous donations, the IPP was converted into what you see today. Want to donate or become a member? Visit the, and explore all the IPP has to offer.

Today you’ll notice the trails emblem on signs, road crossings and custom trash containers. Shown below, the railroad spikes indicate the former Chicago Aurora & Elgin Railway, the inverted Y they create forms a rough map of the main path routes. Then the three circles suggest 3 of the many ways to enjoy the path.

Where does it go?

Did you know the Illinois Prairie Path is made up of over 60 miles of trails? Three distinct branches originate from a point, just west of Prairie Path Pet Care, in downtown Wheaton. From that hub-like point you can head northwest, about 16 miles, bringing you all the way into Elgin. Head southwest, for 14 miles and you’ll go as far as Aurora, or head east 16 miles and you can go all the way to Forest Park. There are also different spurs branching off from the main sections of the trails. A 6 mile spur off the Elgin Branch will take you into Geneva, and a 5 mile spur off of the Aurora branch will bring you up towards Batavia. There’s enough trail for everyone, on different occasions, with many a multitude of different scenic views, along the way. From Marsh, to Forrest Preserves and through neighborhoods and downtowns, various animals and people, alike, can enjoy the path and all it has to offer. Click the image below for a full color printable map provided by , which will point you in the direction of whatever you might be looking for.

We walk dogs not camels and the IPP has us covered

As you walk, run, or ride along the path, there are a plenty of amenities, along the way, to help make your experience more comfortable. There are what they call “comfort stations” every few miles, which will have bathrooms or port-a-potties, drinking fountains and benches for you to rest your feet. Sporadically along the path, there are free standing drinking fountains or water pumps, which are perfect for giving your dog the drink, they’re craving. There are several points of interest, in different sections, of the path, including: native prairie restoration sites and other forest preserve trails, which intersect the IPP, as well as, parks, playgrounds and gazebos to relax, and enjoy the day.


Because there are many people who enjoy the path on a regular basis, all users are asked to travel on their right side of the path. Everyone is asked to remain on the designated surface portion, of the trail, so as not to damage any surrounding landscapes, or plant life. Horses are allowed, and encouraged, so expect to see them ridding along the trail. Use caution when approaching, especially with your canine. There are absolutely no motorized vehicles allowed, except for power assisted wheelchairs. The only additional etiquette listed for dogs are that they must be leashed, at all times, and of course, pick up after them! A full list of etiquettes can be found here:

The Illinois Prairie Path is open and available for public use, all year round and we highly recommend it’s use all the time!We hope you’ve enjoyed the article and take the opportunity to head out and see this beautiful and historic piece of nature, located right in our very own backyards. Any further questions can be directed to the Illinois Prairie Path Not-for-Profit Corporation at (630) 752-0120.

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