Greenways and Trails

Aug 21, 2013

Greenways and Trails

Northeastern Illinois Regional Greenways and Trails Plan

CMAP coordinates inter-jurisdictional planning for trails and greenways in the region. The Northeastern Illinois Greenways and Trails Plan (RGTP), adopted as part of ON TO 2050, is a long-range plan which envisions a network of continuous greenway and trail corridors, linked across jurisdictions, providing scenic beauty, natural habitat, and recreational and transportation opportunities. The plan is includes a conceptual alignments for the planned trail network. The regional trails plan assists implementers and funding agencies in advancing their projects, as proposals that relate to the plan can be more attractive to funding agencies. Since 2013, CMAP has been using the RGTP to guide funding decisions for the Transportation Alternatives Program.

The regional trail network is an organizing system around which regional greenways may be developed. Such greeenways may be composed of forest preserves, recreational facilities, and natural areas, including those along the region's rivers and streams. Greenways may also include urban and suburban parkways and boulevards.

CMAP periodically updates the conceptual alignments of the regional trails network.  Recent updates took place in 2009 and 2016.  These updates revisited previously proposed trails to ensure they are still valid recommendations, and made technical corrections.  Such corrections included altered alignments and new multi-use trail linkages where appropriate. To accomplish these updates, CMAP staff met with personnel from all the counties, forest preserve districts, Councils of Mayors, and the City of Chicago to review potential changes to the RGTP.

Regional Greenways and Trails Plan Map (2018)

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 2019 and for 2009, the year of the prior update. The table shows that 1,350 miles of the envisioned system of 3,164 miles of regional trails have been completed.

Regional Trails Implementation, 2009-2019
County Total System Miles (Existing Plus Proposed), 2019 Total System Miles, 2009 Miles Built or Let for Construction, through 2019 Miles Built or Let for Construction, through 2009 Percent Complete, 2019
Cook 989.70 738.63 460.39 294.31 46.5
DuPage 303.88 278.28 216.49 192.48 71.2
Grundy (Part) 12.95 11.91 11.08 8.99 85.6
Kane 395.38 390.73 167.13 146.02 42.3
Kendall 241.77 239.52 28.94 17.34 12.0
Lake 438.95 350.37 212.85 157.55 48.5
McHenry 238.64 192.85 75.39 60.37 31.6
Will 542.70 510.62 178.19 121.32 32.8
Total 3,163.97 2,712.93 1,350.46 998.37 42.7

Source: CMAP.

Notes: Projects on the Illinois Department of Transportation's Notices of Letting through September, 2019 (typically to begin construction by 2020) are tallied as "built or let" 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."

As of October, 2019, an additional 61 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, the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program, and the Transportation Alternatives Program. While trails often have recreational uses, data also indicates a substantial transportation use for many trails.

Previous Versions

The Regional Greenways and Trails Plan was originally completed in 1992, then updated in 1997 and in 2009, before the current version was adopted within ON TO 2050.  Below are archived documents and maps for these earlier updates.

Northeastern Illinois Greenways and Trails Plan Documents, 2009 Update:

Northeastern Illinois Greenways and Trails Plan Documents, 1997 Update:

Download Geographic Files

Download Northeastern Illinois Greenways and Trails Plan Trails Element Geographic Files

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's CMAP Greenways and Trails Plan feature class is updated periodically with new construction and programming.

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