Mountain bike enthusiasts will soon have access to the first bicycle trails designated in the Shawnee National Forest. Approximately 19 miles between Lake Glendale Recreation Area and Dixon Springs State Park will now be open with a dual designation for mountain bike use as well as hiking.
The trail designation took years of planning and analysis with both the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and Department of Agriculture, Forest Service working cooperatively through each of their individual agency’s planning processes.
“For the Shawnee National Forest, this project represents the first set of trails designated for mountain bikes,” said Laura Lecher, recreation, trails, engineering and heritage staff officer, Shawnee National Forest. “Designating the system for bicycles will allow our agency to properly maintain the trail system for such use and reconstruct the trail to protect natural and cultural resources.”
The trail system consists of 16 miles on the Shawnee National Forest and three miles in the Dixon Springs State Park. The system includes the popular Lake Trail around Lake Glendale, whose designation has been changed from hiker-only to hiker/bicycle use. Plans are being made for improving trail access points and trail system directional signage. Currently, mountain bike enthusiasts can access the trail system in Lake Glendale Recreation Area at Cardinal Bay Boat Launch and Pine Point Picnic Area and at trailheads in Dixon Spring State Park.
“We are thrilled to be able to offer these additional recreational opportunities at Dixon Springs State Park in conjunction with the Forest Service,” said IDNR Director Colleen Callahan. “Connecting the Dixon Spring State Park’s trail system with the trail system at Shawnee National Forest expands and greatly enhances our visitor’s recreation experience.”
User groups like the Shawnee Mountain Bike Association were instrumental at providing input into the project and will continue to be a valuable partner. Plans are being made to work with volunteers and partners to sign the new trail system, reconstruct portions, where needed, and continually maintain it to ensure users have a quality mountain biking experience.