The bicyclists in my household and extended family have blazed a path down the beautiful bike trails of Madison County, Illinois this summer.
There are approximately 100 miles of trails courtesy of Madison County Transit -- the same organization that operates the buses and call-a-ride services in the county.
The agency began working about 20 years ago to preserve these former railroad rights of way for future recreational and mass transit uses.
Today, after a $25 million investment from the Metro East Park & Recreation District, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Federal grants, we citizens of Madison County are lucky to have a network of Class One bikeways offering 100 miles of fun.
Learn more at www.mcttrails.org or call 618-797-4600 with questions.
The Madison County Transit trails are named: Bluff, Confluence, Goshen, Heritage, Nature, Nickel Plate, Quercus Grove, Schoolhouse and Watershed.
MCT suggests pre-set riding loops that range from 10 to 31 miles in length. You can see the trail map and check distances here.
The trails are open to bikers, of course, but also to walkers, runners, rollerbladers/skaters. They are accessible to people who use wheelchairs. Pets on leashes are ok, but horses are not allowed. Trails close at dusk each day.
Thirty-seven park and bike lots throughout the county offer direct access to the trails. If you're using mass transit, note that all MCT buses are equipped with bike racks.
My family's favorite is the 15-mile Schoolhouse Trail which takes riders through beautiful Drost Park in Maryville (pictured here) and to Horseshoe Lake State Park as well as through cool and shady stands of old-growth forest.
Be safe out there. Wear your helmet. And have fun on Madison County's trails.
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