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Greenways and Trails

Northeastern Illinois Regional Greenways and Trails Plan

CMAP coordinates planning for trails and greenways in the region. The officially adopted Northeastern Illinois Greenways and Trails Plan is a long-range, multi-jurisdictional plan which envisions a network of trails and greenways across northeastern Illinois. The plan includes conceptual alignments along with existing greenways and trails. The plan is used extensively by local and county governments, trail users, environmental agencies and organizations, and corridor councils. The map and plan serve as a basis for planning and programming funding for greenways and trails, as a framework and guide for making connections between communities and other greenways and trails, and as a consideration in major infrastructure investment decisions.

Implementation Status

Regional Trails Implementation

Implementation of the trails element of the Northastern Illinois Regional Greenways and Trails Plan continues. The table below shows the status of the trails element implementation for 2015 and for 2009, when the plan was last updated. The table shows that nearly 1,100 miles of the envisioned system of nearly 2,700 miles of regional trails have been completed.

Regional Trails Implementation, 2009-2015
County Total System Miles (Existing Plus Proposed, as of 2015) Existing Trails System Miles, 2009 Existing Trails System Miles, 2015 Percent of Regional Trails Element Complete, 2009 Percent of Regional Trails Element Complete, 2015
Cook 745.27 294.31 350.37 39.8% 47.0%
DuPage 278.21 192.48 208.15 69.2% 74.8%
Grundy (Part) 11.91 8.99 8.99 75.4% 75.4%
Kane 380.44 146.02 153.01 37.4% 40.2%
Kendall 239.68 17.34 21.95 7.2% 9.2%
Lake 352.53 157.55 188.56 45.0% 53.5%
McHenry 201.00 60.37 65.42 31.3% 32.5%
Will 510.83 121.32 165.86 23.8% 32.5%
Total 2,719.87 998.37 1,162.30 36.8% 42.7%

Source: CMAP.

Notes: Projects on the Illinois Department of Transportation's Notices of Letting through July, 2015 (typically to begin construction in 2015) are tallied as "existing" for this purpose. In Grundy County, only Aux Sable Township is included in the Chicago Metropolitan Planning Area and in the Northeastern Illinois Greenways and Trails Plan.  Note that, as trails are completed, the actual mileage reflected in the system will change slightly as conceptual alignments are changed to "as built."  The 2009 percentage completion, shown above, reflects the 2009 proposed system length. 

Among the seven counties wholly within the Chicago metropolitan planning area, DuPage County leads in trails element implementation with 74.8% completion. Over the past six years, Cook County has completed the largest amount of new miles, with more than 56 miles of new trails completed. Lake County and Will County have completed more than 30 and 40 miles of new trails over the same period.  Lake County is the second county to achieve over 50% completion of the trails element of the plan.

Between 2009 and 2015, about 164 miles of the regional trails were constructed or let for bid. As of July, 2015, an additional 63 miles of trails are programmed for future year funding. That is, these trails have funding commitments and are in various stages of preliminary engineering, with construction expected in the next several years. Regional trails are eligible for a variety of fund sources, including the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program and the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program. While trails often have recreational uses, data also indicates a substantial transportation use for many trails.

Greenways Implementation

Approximately half of the trail mileage in the Regional Greenways and Trails Plan are on greenway corridors. Of the 1,364 miles of system trail on greenways, 771 (56.5%) are expected to be completed by the end of 2015. The 2015 target identified in the Indicators Methodology of the GO TO 2040 Update (p. 23) is 808 miles.  The 2020 target is 916 miles.

2009 Update


Originally completed in 1992 and updated in 1997 and in 2009, the Northeastern Illinois Regional Greenways and Trails Plan sets out a vision for an interconnected network of stream- and land-based green corridors and 2,700 miles of multi-use trails throughout the seven-county region. The plan envisions a network of continuous greenway and trail corridors, linked across jurisdictions, providing scenic beauty, natural habitat, and recreational and transportation opportunities for our communities. The plan update, adopted by the Board of CMAP and the MPO Policy Committee, has an anticipated horizon year of 2040.

The Northeastern Illinois Regional Greenways and Trails Plan 2009 Update consists of both a document and map. The files can be downloaded below. Alternatively, contact Curtis Kelley for a free copy at 312-386-8638 or

Northeastern Illinois Greenways and Trails Plan Documents:

  • Poster Map (PDF, 5.8 MB) This map features both existing and proposed elements and includes about 2,700 miles of trails (700 more miles than in 1997), 4,199 miles of stream greenways, and 1,357 miles of land-based greenways.
  • Low-resolution Executive Summary Poster (PDF, 2.4 MB)
  • Plan Document (PDF, 3.6MB) The plan lays out the benefits, objectives, county priorities, and actions recommended to achieve the vision.
  • Consolidated Regional Greenways and Trails Plan Map (PDF, 11MB) This map shows regional trails, the primary trail system, and green trails, along with greenway elements in a pdf document featuring layers that users can make visible or invisible. Layers include aerial photography, lakes and rivers, forest preserves and other open space, roads, and county boundaries. This map does not distinguish between currently existing and proposed facilities. Layer control for the map is on the left side of the document. View all of the layers by clicking the plus sign next to layers; then click on the eye to make an individual or group of layers visible or invisible.
  • Planning Process and Public Review (PDF, 480 KB)
  • 1997 Greenways and Trails Plan Poster - Map (PDF, 3.1 MB) This is an earlier version of the map, and is no longer effective. It is retained here for reference.
  • 1997 Greenways and Trails Plan Poster - Back (PDF, 3.6MB) This map is an earlier version of the executive summary poster, and is no longer effective. It is retained here for reference.

Download Northeastern Illinois Greenways and Trails Plan Trails Element Shapefiles

Geographic files are available for the trails element of the Greenways and Trails Plan for use in mapping and geographic information systems analysis.  These geographic files are part of a geodatabase containing a number of bikeway plans in the CMAP planning area.  The geodatabase for the trails element is posted at  

The geodatabase CMAP Greenways and Trails Plan feature class is updated regularly with new construction and programming.

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