Route 66 defined a nation, a generation, and an era. As it threaded its way from Chicago to L.A., it left its mark on our nation’s history. No other road in our nation symbolizes Americana like the “Mother Road.” And Illinois’s section leads the way with a wealth of authentic sites and attractions, of history and heritage.
From 1926 to 1977, Route 66 led travelers from Chicago to St. Louis, before being replaced by Interstate 55. Today, a continuous Historic Route 66 route is signed and driven by many. In 2005, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources convened a committee of public and private groups with a new vision of exploring the sights, cities, towns, and rural areas of Route 66 at a slower pace. The long-term plan: develop a Route 66 Trail system of off-road paths and comfortable roads for bicycles, equestrians, hikers, and more. Meanwhile, define an interim route that can be used right away while building the project’s momentum. Our Route 66 Trail Guide is that product.
The result, dubbed “Illinois’ Route 66 Trail,” spans 369 miles from Chicago’s Art Institute and Millenium Park’s “Bean”, to the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge – a dedicated bike/pedestrian bridge over the Mississippi River just north of St. Louis. The present route consists of mostly quiet rural roads with 50+ miles of off-road trails and some city streets, and mirrors the signed Historic Route 66 auto route as much as possible.
Download our Route 66 Trail Guide (2006) to help plan your next trip.
Download the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Route 66 Concept Plan (2010) to learn more about the development of the trail.