Did you know that January is National Walk Your Pet Month? Villa Park and the surrounding area has some great areas to take your for a walk at. We will highlight a few of our favorite spots here in town and some history about those spots. We hope you enjoy these fun places to visit with your pet.
The Great Western Trail:
The Great Western Trail is a previous railroad turned to pedestrian trail system that stretches 12 miles long in DuPage County. It connects riders, walkers, horseback riders from Villa Park all the way to West Chicago. The starting point of the trail is right across the street from Ovaltine on Villa Ave, in the “downtown” area of Villa Park. This is a rail-to-trail system, and used to be home to the Chicago Great Western Railway that at one point linked Chicago, Minneapolis, Omaha, and Kansas City. The railroad was eventually abandoned in the late 1960’s. About 20 years later or so, the late ‘80s and ‘90s, there were plans in place to make the former railroad into a pedestrian hike and biking trails.
Illinois Prairie Path:
The Illinois Prairie Path (IPP) is another rail-to-trail system that runs through Villa Park. The former Chicago Aurora and Elgin Railroad (CA&E) started their operation in 1902 on what was an electric line to help facilitate interurban travel. There were no freight trains on this railroad, unlike the Chicago Great Western Railway. The ultimate decline of the CA&E was caused by the increased use of cars after World War II. The final two blows to the railroad were the announcement of the Eisenhower Expressway and the more popular Chicago and North Western Railroad. After the abandonment of the railroad, May Theilgaard Watts wrote a proposal to turn the former railroad into rights-of-way for public use. Present day, the trail system consists of three different branches that all originate in Wheaton. There are about 1.5 miles worth of trail that runs through the Garden Village. The IPP runs parallel to some great local businesses through town, Standard Meadery, Park Tavern, Fuel & Creme, the Villa Park Historical Society and Michael Anthony’s!
Salt Creek Greenway Trail:
In the late 1970s and early 1980s the DuPage County Forest Preserve bought the rights to plan, create, and oversee the Salt Creek Greenway Trail (SCGT). While the DuPage County Forest Preserve is the overseeing agency, SCGT relies on towns, villages, and park districts to help maintain the preservation. Starting in Elk Grove and bringing its users all the way to Brookfield Zoo, spanning 35 miles. The trail, while mostly separate from traffic, some segments do require users to be on roadways and sidewalks. SCGT runs through Villa Park and is about 2.1 miles in length. Starting in Cricket Creek and ending at Rotary Park, you then pick the trail back up on the Illinois Prairie Path.
In what used to be prairie in the 1930s and agricultural fields, DuPage County Forest Preserve District purchased 40 acres in 1974 and then over the course of 42 years, continued to purchase land that now makes up the present day Cricket Creek Forest Preserve. As you are walking on the Salt Creek Greenway Trail, you are bound to stumble upon one of the 60 forest preserves in DuPage County, Cricket Creek. While the majority of the forest preserves is located in Addison, portions are located in Villa Park. Cricket Creek is 208 acres in size, has over 3 miles worth of trails, and three different bodies of water that you can fish at.
These are just a few of our favorite places for a change of scenery in town. If your favorite spot is just a quick walk around your block, Lions Park, or Twin Lakes, there is no wrong answer. Let us know where you like to walk with your family and pets!