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Old 12-01-06, 12:39 PM   #1
Recycle
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Our Grand Illinois Trail trip was completed over Thanksgiving!!!

The Grand Illinois Trail is an 550 to 600 mile loop around northern Illinois from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River and back.

My wife and I completed it in a number of day trips between April and Thanksgiving weekend. It's been a fantastic journey ... one of the best vacations of our lives.

Special thanks to the BFers who offered encouragement and helped me work through some routes where the GIT routes were problematic in some way. Here are a few of my favorite shots from the trip.

Egrets fishing along the I&M Canal



Waterfall over a lock on the Hennepin Canal



Hills about 10 miles east of Galena



The same hills in the distance, viewed from about 15 miles east of Galena



About 10 miles north west of Freeport



Lake in Rock Cut State Park near Rockford



The Chicago Lakefront




Our whole trip is documented here

Last edited by Recycle; 12-01-06 at 03:14 PM.
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Old 12-01-06, 12:47 PM   #2
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That looks just lovely! Quite a nice time, it would appear. You must have a lot of time off, 8 months total for the trip? Congrats on the accomplishment. Something to aspire to!
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Old 12-01-06, 01:22 PM   #3
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That looks just lovely! Quite a nice time, it would appear. You must have a lot of time off, 8 months total for the trip? Congrats on the accomplishment. Something to aspire to!
Thank you.

I wish we could have taken 8 months off. In the end we rode the 585 miles in a number of day trips and over nights on weekends spread over 8 months.

Both of us still work, and my wife has to schedule vacation time a month in advance. Every time we scheduled a week off, something weather related happend to make riding impossible. E g. We scheduled a weekend off, only to have heavy rain dump 2 feet of flood water in the basement the day before we were supposed leave. We spent that week hauling soggy stuff outside.

During another week of vacation, we got to ride a day and a half before the temps dropped into the 20s with snow and 40 m/h winds. Fortunately we were in a town with good restaurants, entertainment, and a motel with a hot tub.

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Old 12-01-06, 01:41 PM   #4
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Good thing you finished up in the warmer weather!!!

I've been to all of those locations, by car.

Did you go through or near Apple River Canyon State Park?
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Old 12-01-06, 02:35 PM   #5
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Good thing you finished up in the warmer weather!!!
I've been to all of those locations, by car.
Did you go through or near Apple River Canyon State Park?
Yes. We rode from Galena thru Schaupville to Apple River Canyon State Park, then on to Lake Le-Aqua-Na State Park. It's beautiful country with great riding hills.

Here are the routes we used
Hanover to 9 mi east of Galena
9 mi east of Galena to Apple River Canyon SP (the direction of travel on the map is reversed from the direction we actually rode)
Lake Le-Aqua-Na SP to Apple River Canyon SP
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Old 12-01-06, 03:05 PM   #6
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Absoulute fabulous. It is going to take me some time to get through all your documentation on the website, but I love what have seen so far. I love it that you are so compulsive about keeping records, maps, pictures, etc. It makes for quite project. Have you considered putting in all in some sort of book? Shutterfly (and I'm sure other sites) make it easy to print picture books with narrative for not too much money. My daughter did a great wedding album that way. Your pictures and words would make a great coffee table book, at least for YOUR coffee table. Great job.
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Old 12-01-06, 03:46 PM   #7
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You just made me homesick.
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Old 12-01-06, 11:26 PM   #8
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Congrats on your ride. It's rides like that I'm sure you'll remember forever. In just the pictures you posted here I can feel the peace of riding. I've ridden some of your route. I suspect in a few years I too will ride the whole GIT.
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Old 12-02-06, 07:04 AM   #9
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I live about an hour South of the I&M Canal and embarassed to say that I've never ridden on it. Your pics make me want to plan a trip next year. Thanks!
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Old 12-02-06, 09:58 AM   #10
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Looks like you had a great time. I live in Hampton directly on the Great River Trail, so the day you did Colona to Albany you went within spitting distance of my house on the river. I walk out my front gate and ride north to start my daily rides.The Lorraine Mabius memorial is a couple hundred feet from us.The little shelter in Cordova is a place I stop at least a couple time a week. I have attached a photo I took out my front window this morning. Not a good day for a ride.
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Old 12-02-06, 07:09 PM   #11
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How much of the trail along the Mississippi River is on a dedicated bike trail vs being on a highway? When I was in Savanna, IL this past Spring I saw a bike trail running along the river.
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Old 12-02-06, 11:20 PM   #12
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I'm working my way through your pictures and description and enjoying it all very much. There's no way you could have done any more miles/per/day with all those pictures and note-taking! I am struck by the almost complete lack of other people.
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Old 12-03-06, 03:04 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skullo
Looks like you had a great time. I live in Hampton directly on the Great River Trail, so the day you did Colona to Albany you went within spitting distance of my house on the river. I walk out my front gate and ride north to start my daily rides.The Lorraine Mabius memorial is a couple hundred feet from us.The little shelter in Cordova is a place I stop at least a couple time a week. I have attached a photo I took out my front window this morning. Not a good day for a ride.
Temps were in the 90s when we rode by your place. It sure looks different now.

Do you know who Lorraine Mabis was? All I found on the internet was that she was the Municipal Treasurer for Hampton for a while.
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Old 12-03-06, 03:41 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Tom Bombadil
How much of the trail along the Mississippi River is on a dedicated bike trail vs being on a highway? When I was in Savanna, IL this past Spring I saw a bike trail running along the river.
It's about 65% dedicated bike path, 35% on roads. The road sections are very low traffic residential or low traffic county roads. Only 1.5 mi is on a 55 m/h state route, but traffic isn't very heavy.

It's 32 mi from Beacon Harbor/ John Deer Commons in Moline to Albany Mounds. 25 mi is dedicated bike path. About 7 mi thru some of the towns is on very low traffic residential roads.

The 10 miles from Albany Mounds to Fulton is mostly on low traffic county roads ... maybe 2 mile on bike path and 1.5 mi on easy gravel.

The 7 miles from Fulton to Thompson is about half dedicated bike trail and half very low traffic country roads.

The 11 miles from Thompson to Savanna 3 miles on bike path, 5.5 mi on low traffic county roads, and 1.5 on a 55 m/h road ..Il Rte 84.

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Old 12-03-06, 03:59 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Mojo Slim
I'm working my way through your pictures and description and enjoying it all very much. There's no way you could have done any more miles/per/day with all those pictures and note-taking! I am struck by the almost complete lack of other people.
I'm glad you're enjoying the journal.

We were suprised at the lack of riders too. We ran into very heavy bike traffic on the Chicago Lake Shore Path, and there were a few people on the Great River Trail between Moline and Savanna. But other than that, it was very rare for us to see other riders. E.g. In the 140 miles from the Mississippi Palisades to Rockford, we only saw 3 riders ... 2 in downtown Galena and 1 in Rockford.

[edit] We did meet some people east of Rockford in Rock Cut SP and on the Long Prairie Trail between Capron and Rockford [/edit]

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Old 12-03-06, 02:09 PM   #16
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Is there a web site that gives good detail on Illinois dedicated bike trails? I saw one page that illustrated the trail, but I couldn't tell which parts were on bike paths and which were on roads.
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Old 12-03-06, 03:13 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Tom Bombadil
Is there a web site that gives good detail on Illinois dedicated bike trails? I saw one page that illustrated the trail, but I couldn't tell which parts were on bike paths and which were on roads.

Tom,

Auto traffic in the on-road sections of the Great River Trail between Moline and Savanna was very light. I don't think we saw more than 15 moving cars in all the on-road sections combined, and most had residential speed limits.

The exception to that was the 1.5 miles on IL Rte 84 between Thomson and Savanna. That part did have some 55 m/h traffic in both directions.

Two sites with detailed Grand Illinois Trail maps and cue sheets are:
From LIB http://www.bikegit.org/git/index.htm
From The Openlands Project http://www.openlands.org/git/maps/index.asp

With the maps and cue sheets you can easily tell the on-road parts from the dedicated path parts

The LIB and Openlands routes are pretty much the same, but they do differ in a few on-road sections. Where they do differ, the LIB route tends to be on busier roads than the Openlands route.

A LIB site with 56 dedicated bike trails throughout the state is http://www.bikegit.org/mapstrails/trailslist.htm

We also found the IDOT Bicycle maps helpful, and they also include all dedicated paths. Check http://www.bikegit.org/mapstrails/index.htm for a list of other trails and maps.

In a few days I'll be putting more about GIT routes up on my web site. There were only 2 or 3 short sections where we decided to work up our own route.
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Old 12-03-06, 10:10 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Recycle
Temps were in the 90s when we rode by your place. It sure looks different now.

Do you know who Lorraine Mabis was? All I found on the internet was that she was the Municipal Treasurer for Hampton for a while.
She was a long time member of the village board here.There are a lot of plaques and benches , trees etc down there in the park dedicated to deceased residents.
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Old 12-03-06, 10:49 PM   #19
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Sounds like a fun trip. Thanks for the pictures. That looks like some great roads to ride.
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