Triple Crown Challenge

Can you conquer the Will County Triple Crown Challenge?

In the hiking world, completing the triple crown means hiking the three longest trails in the United States — the Appalachian Trail, the Continental Divide and the Pacific Crest Trail. We’re putting a spin on it by challenging local hikers to hike the three longest trails in Will County.

The three longest Will County trails are the 22-mile Wauponsee Glacial Trail, 14 miles of the Old Plank Road Trail and 13 miles of the I&M Canal State Trail. Those who accept the challenge will have from March 1 to June 30 to complete the full 49 miles. Trails can be hiked in full or in segments, and those who complete the challenge before June 30 will receive an adjustable bottle sling cooler with a zipper pouch made from post-consumer plastic. 

Those who wish to hike the trails in segments can use maps provided in the All Trails app to find trail maps with the recommended segments. Segment lengths vary from 2.3 miles long to 6.1 miles long. The Wauponsee Glacial Trail hike can be done in six segments, while the Old Plank Road Trail can be completed in four segments and the I&M Canal State Trail can be done in three segments.

Learn how to get started

Want to learn more about the challenge and get some tips for completing it? Watch our How to Complete the Will County Triple Crown Challenge Zoom webinar.



I&M Canal State Trail 

The state-owned, crushed limestone I&M Canal State Trail travels 61.5 miles from Rockdale to LaSalle, with a 13-mile segment of it crossing Will County. The local segment of the trail travels from Brandon Road in Rockdale on the east end to McKinley Woods in Channahon on the west end, where it enters Grundy County and continues on to LaSalle. 

The trail was constructed along the towpath that ran adjacent to the I&M Canal, which was closed to navigation in 1933. The canal itself opened in 1848, creating a key link between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River by way of the Illinois River.

Old Plank Road Trail 

The Old Plank Road Trail is 22 miles in all, with 14.1 miles of it crossing Will County. The paved trail begins at Washington Street in Joliet and continues east through New Lenox and Frankfort before entering Cook County and continuing through Matteson, Park Forest and Chicago Heights. 

The Old Plank Road Trail was constructed along an abandoned railway line, becoming the Forest Preserve District's first rails-to-trails conversion project. Before it was a railway, the stretch of land was intended for use as a roadway for wagons and horses constructed of wooden planks, but it was never built. 

Wauponsee Glacial Trail 

The Wauponsee Glacial Trail traverses 22.42 miles between Joliet and Custer Park. The 2.8-mile northern segment of the trail, which is paved, begins at Rowell Avenue in Joliet and travels south to Sugar Creek Preserve in Joliet. There it connects with the 19.62-mile southern segment, which is crushed limestone. The southern segment ends at the Kankakee River.

Constructed along two abandoned railroad lines, the trail today crosses through natural habitat areas, including prairie, wetland and woodland. The final stretch of the trail spans the Kankakee River on a former railroad bridge, offering a scenic view up and down the river.

Funding for this program is provided by The Nature Foundation of Will County.