Kankakee River State Park, Over the River & Thru the Woods ….

I’m on a mission to run every trail in our area before the Huff 50K on December 28th.  Why?  Because it’s fun!!  Plus, I’d like to hope that one of these trails will give me a tiny bit of preparedness for the event.    Okay, probably not but at least I can say that I was out there, running real trails, and making an effort to prepare for possibly the most difficult thing that I’ve attempted so far.  I also know from a previous trail adventure involving the Grand Canyon and a group of pretty ladies that one of the most important things you can do beforehand is to prepare the feet/ankles and break in the shoes before show time.  Let it suffice to say that I think my shoes are officially broken in, if being dirty counts.   Now can someone just recommend a pair of insulated tights that will cover these LONG legs?? 

dirty trail shoes

So last Saturday, I met up with a few runners from the Kankakee River Running Club to run some backwoods trails at the Kankakee River State Park.   I say “backwoods” cuz well, you won’t find them unless you are lost following someone who knows where to look.  After running out of the parking lot, across a grassy area and then ducking under a gate, we found the semblance of trails.  Very rough trails. 

Kankakee River State Pk_ Trails_Nov 2013  Kankakee River State Pk_ Trails2_Nov 2013 

However, most of the time we were running thru area like this:

Kankakee River State Pk_ woods_Nov 2013   Kankakee River State Pk_ woods2_Nov 2013

We saw lots of cool things and the Kankakee runners were kind enough to stop and let me take a few billion photos.  I am a bridge lover and LOVE to find random bridges in the middle of nowhere.  I also like stairs.  A lot.  Who loves stairs while they run?  Me!!

Kankakee River State Pk_bridge & stairs_Nov 2013  Kankakee River State Pk_stairs_Nov 2013

We also passed the river several times and even found a teepee!  See Mike S, lounging on the frozen ground in the teepee.  And thanks to Jodie & Amie for stopping for a photo!

Kankakee River State Pk_ River_Nov 2013 Kankakee River State Pk_ Mike-TeePee_Nov 2013 Kankakee River State Pk_ Jodi-Amie_Me_Nov 2013

And my favorite part of the day, besides hanging out with new runners, was definitely when we lost the trail and had to climb thru a fence to continue the run.  So.Much.Fun. 

Kankakee River State Pk_ Fence_Nov 2013

I had an amazing day out at the Kankakee River State Park.  I loved the backwoods section as much as the beautiful paved trail that runs directly next to river.  More info on the easy to follow paved trail HERE

I encourage you to get out in the “off season” and make your next run an adventure.  No need to pound the same trail, every single day, change things up.  Have fun.  Leave the watch at home.  Enjoy the moment!

** Run the Trails ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Kankakee River State Park

I stumbled onto a sign for the Kankakee River State Park while driving on Saturday and was immediately hoping to give it a “run” on Sunday.  The park is in Bourbonnais, IL but truly in the middle of nowhere along IL Route 102, west of Bourbonnais & Manteno.  I drove south on Route 45 and then followed the signs when I got to the Manteno intersection.  The park runs parallel to Route 102 and there are multiple entrances.  I just picked one and parked.

5314 West Rt. 102, Bourbonnais, ILimage

The main bike trail begins at Davis Creek, and travels for 10.5 miles west.  Roundtrip, that’s 21 miles of amazing paved trail!  There were several dirt off spurs which would also allow for additional adventure but I’m a “follow the paved trail” kind of girl so I just stuck to the main path and it was super easy.  No chance of getting lost.  Win!

I drug my trusty running partner off the couch to go exploring with me!  Meet Libby.  She is a weimaraner, runner extraordinaire and overall best friend.  She’s covered a lot of miles with me over the years and has helped me up some nasty hills too.  🙂

Kankakee River State Pk_me & Lib_11-11-12

We saw lots of amazing sites, a few runners, a couple bikers, some squirrels, a quail and a branch even fell on the trail directly in front of us one time.  If a girl screams in the woods and nobody hears…..

Kankakee River State Pk2_11-11-12 Kankakee River State Pk6_11-11-12 Kankakee River State Pk_11-11-12   

The trail was marked extremely well, so if you like to run “naked” without your technology, this is a good spot with well maintained, visible mile markers every half mile.   There was never a question as to where I was or how far I had traveled.  Nice touch!

Kankakee River State Pk_8 mi_11-11-12

There were also a lot of cool bridges.  Finding old bridges in different styles is one of my favorite things about running a new trail so the Kankakee River State Park trail was a major win for me!

Kankakee River State Pk3_11-11-12


    Kankakee River State Pk_green bridge_11-11-12

Kankakee River State Pk_ bridge_11-11-12   Kankakee River State Pk_big bridge_11-11-12

The water was always close to the trail.  You could see it peeking between the trees, thru the openings, and while crossing those old beautiful bridges.

Kankakee River State Pk5_11-11-12    

There were a few hills which were identified with “steep hill” signs:

Kankakee River State Pk4_11-11-12

      Kankakee River State Pk7_11-11-12

Overall, this was a great trail and it was very well maintained.  I absolutely loved every section that I ran.  I started just before the mile 5 marker and ran almost to the end before returning to my car.  It was beautiful!  There were bathrooms in several areas.  Lots of access roads with parking/camping/picnic areas.  Kankakee River State Park would be perfect for families, runners/bikers, moms with jogging strollers and FurMoms who need to run/walk the dogs.  If you have the jogging stroller and/or a biking tot beware of those steep hill sections.  Also note that this trail is in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE.  There were several camping areas which I ran thru but in between camp sites, it was pretty desolate.  The river bordered one side of the trail and at times I could see Route 102 on the other.  The majority of the time, however, the trial is just engulfed by forest preserve.  If you like peace and quiet, this is YOUR trail.  If you like to run in a bit more populated area, you might not be comfortable here.

Regardless of what you prefer, get out the door and enjoy these last few days of fall.  Winter is coming and then we can talk about breaking new trails in the snow!

** Happy Trail Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz * amanda@tootallfritz.com