I actually started at Brandon road in Rockdale, just outside Joliet. Trail is 47 miles to Ottawa. Excellent hike on a well maintained trail. There is a major detour in Morris due to a washout that has the trail closed. Requires hiking on city streets/sidewalks to get to Gebhard Woods state park where you pick the trail back up. The section just outside Channahon along the Dupage river is especially nice as it almost feels like walking on an island with the river on one side and the canal on the other. Once you approach Morris the canal is mostly dry as you head west. I will certainly return to finish the remaining 15.7 miles to Peru.
Maintained very well. I was looking for a fairly easy walk to get in shape for the summer, this fit the bill. Weather was perfect. If you need to you can add to the distance by starting or finishing further along the I & M Canal pathway. Everything was very green!
Better for biking, I would say. It goes from a lovely park in Channahon to McKinley Woods State Park, which is a really nice little park with a few hills and trails and some CCC remnants. Anyway, the I&M Canal Trail goes all the way from the Chicago area down to LaSalle Peru. This particular stretch is often the only thing between the canal and the Illinois River. It's a nice ride.