We parked at Sumner Park in Pecatonica, walked a block or so to the Pecatonica Prairie Path (PPP) and then headed west. The east edge of the SW corner of the FP is about 1.25 miles according to Google Earth.
The PPP follows a power line easement. It is not real well signed in Pecatonica (I saw no signs at all) so the best way to find it is via the power lines. It seems to go right thru the fairgrounds and there is a gate there. It appears like you could detour around the fairgrounds to the south if the gate was closed. Seems a little odd.
What we saw was a nice hiking and horseback riding surface, but the lack of any shade at all would make it unpleasant in warmer weather. The part we were on was 6-8 feet above the surrounding terrain so the path was pretty dry. There was a lot of mud and standing water on either side but none on the path itself.
Given the PPP runs under power lines, it is not real surprising that there is no shade. There were some holes, probably animal burrows, in the surface of the grass and packed dirt path that might present a big surprise to a bicyclist who was not paying attention.
We went in and walked the trail on the east side of this section of the FP. Not really a lot there. Both trail spurs shown on the trail map go to Sumner Creek and just stop at the creek, and pickup on the other side, but there is no obvious way to get across.
Sumner Park is pretty nice. Has all the usual park amenities plus a working bathroom that was not locked. Kind of a rare find for me of late. The outdoor water fountain was not on, but the sink in the bathroom worked for getting Wilma some nice cold water when we got back. There was also a pop machine.
We visited this FP previously, but on the north side of the river. We only made the eastern most trail segment on this visit. It was warm and Wilma does not do real well in the heat. We may go back some time and walk the PPP to the west end of this park and pick up the trail from the other end. I kind of had in mind walking the loop from the east end to the west end and coming back on the PPP, but the lack of a good way to cross the creek we encountered that blocked the trail changed my mind.
View looking west on the PPP near Sumner Park.
View looking east on the PPP near Sumner Park.
A fallen tree across the trail inside the FP. There is side trail that loops around the tree. The vegetation seen in the picture is pretty typical of what we encountered, although most of the trail is in better shape.
We saw these three people with their horses on the PPP on our way back.
ETA 6-10-12 Based on this hike today, I submitted a review of the Pecatonica Prairie Path to TrailLink dated March 2012.