The Pecatonica Prairie Path is an 18-mile long biking, hiking and nature trail extending from Illinois route 75 and River Road, east of Freeport, to the Village of Winnebago. It passes through the villages of Ridott in Stephenson County and Pecatonica and Winnebago in Winnebago County. The Path follows the old right-of-way of the Chicago & Northwestern RR, now owned by Commonwealth Edison Co. The Path is leased to the Pecatonica Prairie Path, Inc., a non-profit educational and recreational organization formed to develop and manage the path for public use.
The Path is open to the public year-round for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing at no cost. Use of the Path as a natural science laboratory and for outdoor education, birdwatching and nature study is encouraged.
Access to the Path is from several country road crossings. Parking is allowed along county roads, in Ridott, in Sumner Park in Pecatonica and in the Winnebago High School parking lot. Take McNair Street from the H.S. to the beginning of the Path.
The Path cuts through forests and villages, over rivers and creeks, past farms and across highways. A ribbon of undisturbed ground on both sides of the Path provides a constantly changing glimpse of wildflowers, birds, trees, butterflies and other wildlife throughout the year which is typical of the prairies the settlers experienced.
Spring brings puccoons, wild hyacinth, violets and warblers. The scent of wild roses fills the June air while wood ducks rest on the river near the old iron trestle bridge. Summer brings scores of prairie sunflowers, blazing star, coneflowers, and blue lobelia. The tawny prairie grasses and shy fringed gentians wait until fall to show off their beauty.
Over 60 species of birds have been recorded from the Path and deer, badger, fox and raccoon are often seen. The Path is a long, narrow refuge for all of our wildlife.
Many historical and cultural features can also be seen along the way. The Pecatonica River Valley is rich in history and also provides a beautiful setting for just getting out into the country.
Winnebago to U.S. 20 . . . . . . . . . 3 miles
U. S. 20 to Pecatonica . . . . . . . . . 4 miles
Pecatonica to Farwell Bridge. . . . . 3 miles
Farwell Bridge to Ridott . . . . . . . . 3 miles
Ridott to Route 75 . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 miles
More info on the Pecatonica area, click here!
More Info on the Village of Winnebago, Click Here!
Link to GORP Regional Biking Pages, click here!