Last week I was afforded the opportunity to head down to Springfield, for work. It was a quick trip, driving down Monday afternoon, getting the work done Tuesday morning, then heading back up home immediately after. While perusing maps to see if I could get a run in before Tuesday’s work, I saw that the Lost Bridge Trail started relatively close (less than a mile) from my hotel.
The Lost Bridge Trail, a 5.0-mile rail trail, was built by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) along an abandoned Baltimore and Ohio Railroad corridor between the east side of the city, running to the community of Rochester. The part of the trail that I ran began at the IDOT building, crossed under I-55, then continued on. From what I’ve read, it crosses Sugar Creek and later the South Fork of the Sangamon River near Rochester. Since it was dark when I ran, I’m not sure if I made it to either one. The Lost Bridge’s name arose from IDOT's inability to prevent the Sugar Creek bridge from being torn down for scrap. Future plans include lengthening the trail.
When I headed out from my hotel, about 5:00 AM, it was quite dark and pretty chilly (I could see my breath), but it wasn’t difficult to find the trailhead. I think I startled the night watchman, who was patrolling the parking lot when I ran by. Running behind the IDOT building, there is a large pond/lake/retention area, beautiful even in the dark. The trail is paved, so footing is assured, though the moon was able to poke through the tree canopy only rarely. This is probably a beautiful trail in the light. Since the trail starts near I-55 and passes under the expressway, traffic noise is a constant companion.
This is a great trail if you’re in Springfield and want a car-free option. If you are fearful or uncomfortable running in the dark, this trail is not for you, unless you bring a headlamp. During the day, it would be a great place to run, ride a bike, or push a stroller. At 5 miles long, a run or ride up to 10 miles is there for the choosing.