311 E. Williams
Wyoming, Illinois 61491
About the Trail
Beauty and solitude, away from the hustle and bustle of city traffic, await visitors at Rock Island Trail State Park. NAmed for the abandoned Rock Island Railroad Line it traves, the park offers many natrual and achitectural attractions in a tree-canopied corridor that is only 50 to 100 feet wide. It stretches for 26 miles from Alta, in Peoria County, to Toulon, in Stark County.
Prairie grasses and wildflowers co-exist as remnants of early rail travel along the trail. Just north of Alta, an arched culvert offers a lovely backdrop for the natural beauty of the area. At the Peoria/Stark county line, a tallgrass prairie remnant provides a step back into time and allows visitors to see the the landscape taht Native Americans and early settlers experienced. Just a few miles from the Toulon access area, a trestle bridge spans the Spoon River. A few miles further south in the town of Wyoming, the park office is located in the renovated Wyoming, Chicago, Burlinton & Quincy Depot. The depot serves as a visitor center/railroad museum and is a mute testimony to the many passengers that traveled along the railway 100 years ago.
The Peoria and Rock Island Railroad Co. was granted a charter to construct a railroad between Peoria and Rock Island on March 7,1867. Construction began two years later and the first regularly scheduled passenger train passed over the Rock Island Line on July 7, 1871.
For more than forty years, passenger and freight trains rumbled through the small towns of Alta, Dunpal, Princeville, Stark, Wyoming and Toulon. By 1915, however, rail traffic through these communities began to decline and ceased completely by the late 1950s.
Peoria's Forest Park Foundation acquired the abandoned railway corridor in 1965 and deeded the property to the state four years later. Officially dedicated in 1989, the Rock Island Trail is the first railway conversion completed by the DNR.
The Rock Island Trail is in the Grand Prairie Division, a vast plain formerly covered with tall prairie grasses. As the trail has reverted to nature, much of the prairie has returned.
North of Princeville lies a dedicated Nature Preserve with abundant native prairie grasses and flowering perennials. Fourteen acres have been restored to native prairie at the Kickapoo Creek Recreation Area. Hardwood trees and wildflowers can be found along the streams and rivers cross the trail.
Facilities and Activities
Since the only improved access point to the Rock Island Trails are at Alta, Wyoming and Toulon, hikers, bikers and skiers will enjoy nearly 26 miles of uninterrupted nature. Park, water and toilets are located at all three access areas. Only parking facilities are located at Dunlap (on Parks School Road) and the Peoria/Stark county line (North Cedar Bluff Road, OON.) Where the trail intersects the small towns along its route, village street and sidewalks, with directional signs, are utilized.
Only non-motorized traffic is allowed on the trail, and equestrian use in not permitted. North-to-south biking is easier because of prevailing wind direction and slight grade relief.
The Class D (primitive) camping area is located between Alta and Dunlap in the Kickapoo Creek Recreation Area. The campground is accessible only by bike or foot and requires a 1-mile bike or hike from the nearest road. Facilities include pit toilets, fire pads, picnic tables, a picnic shelter and water.