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While the Chicago region’s population grew by 18 percent since 1980, the traffic increased by 66 percent in the same period.

Explore the Heritage Corridor this fall with Metra

Metra is offering special service on the Heritage Corridor Line on Saturdays this fall, giving Chicago-area residents opportunities to explore the biking and running paths, festivals, craft breweries, restaurants, and communities along the Metra route that runs southwest of the city to Joliet.

Dubbed “Rails, Trails and Ales,” the program offers three round-trip trains, each equipped with Metra’s new bike cars to carry extra bikes, on Saturdays through Oct. 14.

The trains will leave Chicago Union Station at 10:30 a.m., 4:15 p.m., and 8 p.m. and make all stops to Joliet. Inbound trips will depart Joliet at 8 a.m., 1:45 p.m., and 6:30 p.m. making all stops to Union Station.

In a news release, Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski said this is an opportunity for people to explore areas that are normally served by trains only on week days. “Bring your bike on board and ride a bike path,” he said. “Check out a weekend festival. Ride a zip line. There are scores of possibilities along the Heritage Corridor Line.”

Metra’s Heritage Corridor Line was named after the historic Illinois & Michigan Canal, which the rail line parallels. Many of the towns that are now stops on the line are closely linked to the canal’s creation, with rich and interesting histories. Bike paths that use the canal’s former towpath or connect with it are accessible from many of those stops.

Metra’s $7 Saturday Day Pass offers unlimited rides. Metra’s Family Fares allow three children age 11 and under to ride free with a fare-paying adult, and can be used in conjunction with the Saturday Pass.

Take a look at some of the sites, restaurants, breweries, and biking/walking paths near each Heritage Corridor stop.

And check out this video from the Trains are Awesome YouTube channel about a similar program that Metra offered in the summer of 2022.