While trying to think of something I could do on a Saturday morning without driving too far, I decided to make a visit to the Rock Island State Trail, on the north end of Peoria, Illinois. Designated as a Park, it is really a reclaimed rail route turned Walking/Hiking/Running/Biking trail, and it is a gem.
Illinois Department of Natural Resources claims there are 26 miles of trail from Alta (Peoria) and Toulon, Illinois. However, there are newer and developing sections that connect to the trail in various other locations, not designated as “State” recreational areas. If you are an avid walker, runner, biker, or just love a great outdoor location, this park is really right up your alley.
Beautiful canopied trail – mostly all gravel with some occasional road crossings. There are a few major roadways to cross, so keep an eye on the kids.
This picture was taken about two thirds of the way from Alta trailhead to Dunlap, Illinois. Once I was well past the trailhead I encountered only an occasional runner or other bike rider.
This visit to the Rock Island Trail I decided to Mountain Bike for a nice easy workout. I rode from the Alta Access to Princeville, Illinois, which was 10 miles out and 10 miles back of course. Not a hard ride by any means, but definitely not for the faint of heart or the tender butt type 🙂
A little graffiti art that I saw just outside of the Alta Access area. Not for everyone I know, but I thought it was pretty cool and kind of sums up how I like to live my life.
Try to plan your visits to this recreational area wisely. The trail is quite popular for good reasons. Saturday mornings during nice weather you will encounter numerous trail users; mostly runners and walkers, and I don’t think those folks much appreciate bikes whizzing past. I always gave the walker or runner the right-of-way but still got some dirty looks. If Saturday mornings are your only time and you plan to bike ride, try to access the trail further in, closer to Dunlap. Once you are beyond the first five miles from the trailhead, you will pretty much have the trail to yourself.
Bike riders – this is a mostly gravel trail. I saw a few road bikers but I don’t think I would risk a flat tire ten miles out. There were a few spots with some newer gravel that could be pretty treacherous for the narrow tire. There are also lots and lots of sticks and other debris throughout. Just be careful.
Make certain to check local and Department of Natural Resources websites for updated trail information. There have been reports of portions of the trail being washed out and not passable. The route from Alta Access to Princeville, Illinois had no issues with the trail and no closures.
There are no facilities on the trail once you leave the Alta Access. Take water and make sure to use the facilities before you go out on the trail.
The Rock Island Trail is a great local destination for the outdoor lover or fitness enthusiast. Get out there and give this park/trail a visit. My next visit will be for a good, long, peaceful run. Enjoy folks!
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