What is a rail trail?

Rail trails are multi-purpose public paths created from former railroad corridors. Ideal for many uses, rail trails are extremely popular as recreation and alternative transportation corridors. In many communities, these trails provide a safe passage to parks and schools. In the Midwest, rail trails also serve as conservation areas containing prairie remnants, wetlands, and forested areas. They also act as corridors for the movement of plants and animals between larger natural areas. Additionally, they often help preserve historic landmarks.

What is Railbanking?

Where is the Kickapoo rail trail?

Once built, the Kickapoo Trail will follow the former CSX (Conrail prior to CSX) railroad right of way from Urbana to Danville. It will pass through the communities of Mayview, St. Joseph, Ogden, Fithian, and Oakwood. The trail passes over the Salt Fork River and the Vermilion Rivers and has an eastern terminus at the Kickapoo State Park.

Who owns the trail corridor?

Champaign County Forest Preserve District owns the portion in Champaign County, and the Vermilion County Conservation District will own the portion in Vermilion County. Additionally, there will be a 1.5-mile section in Vermilion County that will be owned by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

How long is the trail?

It is our vision that the trail will be at least 24.5 miles in length through the two counties. There may be smaller trail spurs added as communities may want to expand trails to highlight or make access to other parts of their city.

Can I use the trail now?

At this time, none of the trail is open for public use. Any use of the trail could be considered trespassing by CSX. Only once the trail is built will access be allowed onto the property. Public access may occur in phases as money for construction of the trail is secured.

What uses are allowed on the trail?

Walking, birdwatching, running, bicycling, skiing, and snowshoeing are allowed. Pets are required to be leashed while on the trail. (Please pick up after them.) To see a complete list of rules and regulations for the Kickapoo Trail, please click here (69kb pdf).

What is not allowed on the trail?

Motorized vehicles and horses will not be allowed on the trail. Hunting, littering, dumping and alcoholic beverages are prohibited along the trail. There will be a “Stay on the Trail” ordinance for your protection. Wondering off the trail onto private land is considered trespassing. Please keep off private property along the trail. To see a complete list of rules and regulations for the Kickapoo Trail, please click here (69kb pdf).

How can I support the trail?

You can support the trail In several ways. You can help now by donating to the acquisition and construction of the trail. There are three non-profit foundations that you can donate to, including the Forest Preserve Friends Foundation, the Vermilion County Conservation District Foundation, and the Champaign County Design and Conservation Foundation. All donations to any of these Foundations are tax deductible.

You can also support the trail by becoming a trail steward once a section of trail is completed. Trail Steward activities include, trash pickup, exotic species removal, and reporting and maintenance issues that need to be addressed.

Where can I get a map of the Trail?

Since construction of the trail is everchanging, we only have maps available here for download at this time. We will update the map as sections are built and open to the public.

Is camping allowed along the trail?

Camping will not be allowed anywhere on the trail or rail corridor.

What should I do if I see a limb down or other safety concern?

On the Champaign County side of the trail contact kickapoo_trail@ccfpd.org. On the Vermilion County side contact vccd@vccd.org to report trail obstructions or other safety concerns. During the week, you may also call the Champaign County Forest Preserve District at (217) 586-3360. If emailing or leaving a message please give detail of the location and type of obstruction including any nearby landmarks or mile markers. In case of an emergency, please call 911.

Do mobile phones work along the trail?

There is mobile phone reception along much of the trail. In areas where trees are abundant, you may have limited reception.

How will the trail be marked?

The trail is designed to have mile markers along them similar to those found along our highway systems. It is always a good idea to remember the last mile marker that you passed.

Are there natural areas along the trail?

For many decades, local ecologists have been mapping natural areas of high importance along the rail corridor. We are dedicated to preserving these areas and having as little impact on them while providing a quality trail experience. There is a “Stay on the Trail” ordinance for your protection as well as the protection of the natural areas. Please do not take plants, animals, or materials from the trail corridor.

Trail Construction & Maintenance

When will the trail be completed?

The trail will be completed in multiple phases. It will be highly dependent on money available through state and federal grants, as well as fundraising efforts. Building the trail will take several years.

How is the trail being funded?

The acquisition was funded entirely by state and federal grants as well as generous donations from individuals. Fundraising for the construction of the trail is underway.

How much will it cost to develop the trail?

Construction costs can vary significantly, depending on design decisions that are made.

What kind of surface will the finished trail have?

The majority of the trail will be 10-feet wide and have a surface of crushed fine limestone. There will be areas that are asphalt.

Once Trail is Built

Will there be a fee to use the trail?

Once the trail is built we do not believe there will be a fee. However, you can donate to the trail’s ongoing maintenance.

Will I need a permit to use the trail?

Regular uses of the trail such as biking, running, hiking and bird watching will not need a permit.

Will I be able to hold an organized event on the trail?

Organized events on the trail are only allowed with the written permission of the Champaign County Forest Preserve District. For a special use permit, please call (217) 586-3360 or email hq@ccfpd.org.

Will snow be cleared from the trail?

The trail material will not allow for removal of snow without serious damage to the trail. Therefore, snow will not be cleared from the trail. The trail will be open during snow cover and may be used for cross country skiing, hiking, and snowshoeing.

Adjacent Landowner & Resident Concerns

Will trail users trespass on my property?

The vast majority of trail users are law-abiding citizens not interested in trespassing. Straying onto private property is usually accidental, and is reduced where there is a clear trail boundary. Trail signs remind users to respect private property. If you experience trespassing problems, call the police in your area.

Do rail trails attract crime?

There is no evidence that developed rail trails cause an increase in crime. In fact, trail development may actually decrease the risk of crime in comparison to an abandoned and undeveloped rail corridor. Several studies show that most people prefer living along a rail trail rather than an abandoned corridor. Typically, lawful trail users serve as eyes and ears for the community, discouraging unlawful activity. Police patrols are also conducted on the trail to discourage illegal activities and uses.

Will the trail affect my property value?

From studies of existing trails reported by the National Trail Conservancy, 64% of adjacent landowners believe that the trail has no effect on the resale value, with 28% believing that the land value increased as a result of the trail. 71% of realtors and appraisers believe that the trail has no effect on adjacent residential property with 19% believing that the property value increases. On well-used rail trails, it is common to find property "for sale" signs not just in front of a property, but also facing the trail, in order to catch the attention of trail users who highly value having immediate access to a trail system.