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Thursday, December 2, 2021

DuPage River Trail segment linking Will and DuPage county preserves is now open

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Will County Forest Preserve District Report

A newly constructed 1.25-mile section of the DuPage River Trail that connects Whalon Lake preserve in Will County to Greene Valley Forest Preserve in DuPage County is now open. 

Officials from the Will County and DuPage county forest preserve districts gathered Friday, June 1, for a ribbon cutting at the spot in Bolingbrook where the new trail segment joins the Whalon Lake loop trail. But even as the officials were gathering, bikers, walkers and runners were already utilizing the new trail segment, which begins in the northeastern corner of the preserve and travels east along Royce Road and north on Greene Road to Greene Valley in Naperville. 

Andrew Andjelic of Naperville said he rides between the two preserves often, and the new trail connection provides a much safer route.

“It used to be a huge pain to get from my house to Greene Valley and beyond,” he said. ‘I’d have to ride on the road. It was very difficult, especially with the trucks on Royce.”

Scott Oberle of Woodridge said the trail link allows him to ride farther than before.

“I love it,” he said. “I can come from Green Acres (subdivision) and have an expanded ride. It’s much safer and I can stay off the roads.”

Andrew Andjelic of Naperville rides his bike Friday, June 1, from the Forest Preserve District of Will County’s Whalon Lake loop trail onto a new DuPage River Trail segment linking the preserve with Greene Valley Forest Preserve in DuPage County. The 1.25-mile trail link opened Friday after a ribbon cutting ceremony. Photo. by Forest Preserve staff.

The new link allows trail users to go north 2.3 miles through Greene Valley to the Southern DuPage Regional Trail along Hobson Road, according to Kevin Horsfall, manager of planning for the DuPage Forest Preserve. From there, path users can head west about 3 miles to Washington Street and catch the West Branch DuPage River Trail, which runs 11 miles north through downtown Naperville to Blackwell Forest Preserve, he added.

The project was a collaboration between the two forest preserve districts and Elmhurst-Chicago Stone Company, which operates a quarry adjacent to Whalon Lake. 

“This project shows that when you get different government agencies together and you have a vision, you can make it into a reality,” said Suzanne Hart, president of the Forest Preserve District of Will County’s Board of Commissioners.

Ralph Schultz, chief operating officer for the Will County Forest Preserve, said the project grew out of a 25-year partnership with Elmhurst-Chicago Stone, which constructed and paid for most of the new trail segment in exchange for getting permission to build a floodwater diversion channel in Whalon Lake preserve.

“It’s not only a small link here for the Will County Forest Preserve, it’s a big link to the rest of the trails that are available in Illinois,” said Mary Lou Wehrli, a DuPage County Forest Preserve commissioner.

Ed Stevenson, executive director of the DuPage Forest Preserve, said the project is an example of what can happen when governmental entities and private businesses work together. 

“Public-private partnerships can really accomplish beautiful things,” he said. “So congratulations, really, to everyone on a job well done, and we look forward to the next chance to work together. 

Jeff Brown, president of Elmhurst-Chicago Stone, said the business was pleased to assist in creating the trail segment. 

“Seeing it to completion is a great thing, and we’re happy to continue Elmhurst-Chicago Stone’s tradition of giving back in the communities in which we operate,” Brown said.

In addition to connecting north to Greene Valley, a trail segment that opened in 2015 also links Whalon Lake to the Bolingbrook Park District’s Hidden Lakes Historic Trout Farm.

For more information on Will County forest preserves and trails, visit ReconnectWithNature.org.

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