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Bridge installed over I&M Canal as work continues on Lake Chaminwood trail connection project

Two excavators set a metal foot bridge in place.
(Photo by Anthony Schalk)

Work on a trail extension project that will connect Lake Chaminwood Preserve to the I&M Canal Trail in Channahon jumped a big hurdle on April 19 when a bridge was installed over the canal. 

During installation, the prefabricated, weathered steel truss bridge was securely anchored to the concrete abutments, said John Stecyk, a Forest Preserve project manager. 

Concrete work will take place over the next few weeks and the 90-foot bridge will feature a 12-foot-wide walkway once it is completed. This bridge and new trail extensions will eventually connect the 0.7-mile paved loop trail at Lake Chaminwood with the 61.5 mile crushed limestone I&M Canal State Trail

The back portion of the loop trail and a 3-mile section of the I&M trail, from Interstate 55 frontage road to West Knapp Street, are both closed while construction is ongoing. 

The new bridge will remain closed to the public until the project is completed sometime in mid- to late June. Weather and other factors could affect the project timeline. Updates will be posted here as necessary. 

Perfect trailhead

The new trail connection will greatly improve what is already a very popular preserve, Stecyk said. 

“With the new trail extension and bridge crossing, Lake Chaminwood will become the perfect trailhead for cyclists,” he said. “Cyclists of all abilities can park at Lake Chaminwood and in a half mile, gain access to the 61.5 mile I&M Canal State Trail.”

The I&M Canal State Trail stretches from Rockdale to LaSalle. 

“Users will be able to safely bike off-street to more of our preserves and regional destinations, like Lower Rock Run Preserve, McKinley Woods and Four Rivers Environmental Education Center,” Stecyk said. 

“And the reverse is also true; runners, joggers and cyclists who may not have even known Lake Chaminwood existed, will be able to safely cross over the I&M Canal and explore all that Lake Chaminwood has to offer,” he added. "Since it opened in 2012, the lake has drawn anglers, kayakers and hikers looking for a nice easy walk around a very scenic lake."

Lake Chaminwood will ultimately serve as the location for the southern terminus of the DuPage River Trail. Connecting Lake Chaminwood to the I&M Canal State Trail now will allow for the regional DuPage and I&M Canal trails to be connected in the future.

This is the second phase of Forest Preserve District improvements at Lake Chaminwood Preserve. Phase one, which was completed in June 2023, included a larger parking lot, a new entrance, an accessible kayak launch on the 35-acre lake and a welcome plaza. 

The improvements at Lake Chaminwood are being made possible with support from The Nature Foundation of Will County.

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