Hiking & Biking the I & M Canal
By Ray Hoven for American Bike Trails
The opening of the Illinois & Michigan Canal ushered in a new era in trade and travel for the nation. By connecting the waters of the Illinois River with those of Lake Michigan (hence the name) the canal created an all water route from New York to New Orleans with Chicago as the crucial mid point. The I&M Canal, opened 23 years after the Erie Canal, was the last of the great U.S. shipping canals of the 19th Century. Following up on the Erie's success, the I&M was the final link in a chain of waterways that helped fuel the nation's economic growth. Multi-use Trails in Cook, DuPage, Will, Grundy and LaSalle Counties in Illinois.