Ride 11: Ride the White Elephant
Biking Illinois: 60 Great Road Trips and Trail Rides
Sheffield, IL         July 6, 2005
When I rode the Grand Illinois Trail in 2000, the Hennepin Canal Parkway was under construction. It had been a grassy hiking/equestrian trail for many years, but the IDNR wanted to upgrade it for bicycles (I'm not certain whether the designation of the GIT expedited  or merely coincided with this upgrade). Since I couldn't ride on the trail  then, I had to pedal along on parallel country roads, occasionally spying  the canal. Consequently, this was my first ride on the real trail. The parkway is long, but the short section I included in Biking Illinois  includes the basic features found along the canal: a truss bridge, a restored lock with a non-functioning lift bridge,  and an aqueduct. I would  like to say I designed this ride  to view  these particular engineering structures, but in truth, the length of the ride was determined largely by the time of day. When I reached the aqueduct, I figured I had just enough daylight to ride back to my car, so that became the turnaround point for this ride.
The trail crosses the canal on this bridge near the visitor center.
The trail is concrete where  it passes under I-80.
The canal passes through prime Illinois farmland.
Riders are supposed to walk their  bikes through these short tunnels. If you choose to stay in the saddle, duck!
Summit Pool is a small lake where the feeder canal from the Rock River supplies water to the main canal. The photo on the right shows a sign for the trail junction.
Since the Hennepin Canal's locks were built later and used less, they were probably relatively easy to restore compared to those of the Illinois & Michigan Canal.
The last major canal feature on this ride is the Coal Creek Aqueduct. As I said above, I chose to turn around while I still had enough light to get back to the parking lot.
Here's another look at the lock on the way back.
This trail needs more traffic to keep nature from reclaiming it.
Here's a late afternoon view of the first bridge.
This railroad bridge is a short distance east of the trailhead, so it isn't included in the book.
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