Hiking & Biking
The September 2008 issue of National Geographic Adventure Magazine featured Peoria, Illinois as one of the "Next Great Adventure Towns in Central America!" The article stated, "Peoria's fresh set of forest-lined mountain biking single-track has made it a new Midwest hub, thanks to the Peoria Area Mountain Biking Association's trailblazing efforts. Come evening, pedalers and paddlers hit the revamped riverfront for microbrews and live music." Now that's something to get stoked about!
The area does have a variety of nature-based adventure hot spots that are one-of-a-kind and are a must to explore. From technical mountain biking trail systems to scenic biking trails and recreational hiking to serious backpacking the Peoria Area has it all, so get out there and hit the trails!
The Peoria Area wasn't named one of the next great adventure towns for giggles. These towns are intense. Some of the best mountain biking takes place right here within, what may seem like sweet, tree-lined trails through farmlands, prairie grass and wildflowers-but you'll also find death-defying planks, impossible turns and gut wrenching climbs that only the best can say they've conquered. Strap on your helmet and experience intermediate-level to seriously expert-level riding. Explore Jubilee State Park in Peoria County, where 3,200 acres of scenic, rolling topography turn into the largest single-track system in the area. Black Partridge in Woodford County is the newest trail system in the area and when finished will house over 15 miles of single track. Up for a challenge? Farmdale Reservoir in Tazewell County is over 20 miles of a mix between fast open stretches, tight twisty single track and vertical distance for lovers of a good climb. PAMBA (Peoria Area Mountain Biking Association) claims this Reservoir has, "the sweetest downhill run in the area." Tazewell County is home to two more great mountain biking areas, Independence Park in Marquette Heights, known for having plenty of challenging hills, logs and natural obstacles, as well as Dirksen Park in Pekin offering grinding climbs, a tight single track and screaming descents.
Not a huge mountain biker, that's okay, the Peoria Area offers some of the best recreational biking around. Bureau County's Hennepin Canal Parkway State Park offers a 155-mile trail paralleling the Hennepin Canal, the East Peoria's 5-mile River Trail of Illinois and if you are looking for a trail in Peoria County, the Rock Island State Trail is a 26-mile trail system between Alta and Toulon in Stark County; all are perfect for running, walking and recreational biking. These trails offer beautiful scenery, peaceful surroundings and are the perfect place to escape everyday stress.
Whether you are interested in day hiking or backpacking, the area has a variety of parks and trails to choose from. If you are looking for a family oriented nature trail, Wildlife Prairie State Park, W.H. Sommer Park and the Forest Park Nature Center would be great choices. Wildlife Prairie State Park in Peoria is a spectacular nature prairie park with massive wildlife enclosures. The park offers well maintained hiking trails such as the Flood Plain Trail, beautiful scenery with almost every type of landscape Illinois has to offer, and if you can't fit your exploration all into one day, the park offers overnight lodging in on-site cabins. The Forest Park Nature Center is 540 acres of Native River bluff forest and has some of the hilliest hiking in the Peoria Area, but the shorter trails are popular with families. If you are looking for more rugged terrain for hiking and/or backpacking the Deer Run Hiking Trail in Tazewell County, the Illinois River Bluff Trail at Camp Wokanda, or Jubilee State Park, Grandview Drive or Detweiller Park trails in Peoria County all offer miles of trails, ranging from flat, beautiful terrain to steep, heavily dissected bluffs.
The adventure doesn't stop there. With the Illinois River in our backyard and several kayaking lakes and rivers within our eight counties, perhaps you'll need to come back again, to explore it all! The Spring Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area in Tazewell County, the Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge and Nature Conservancy in Fulton County, Chautauqua National Refuge in Mason County and the Marshall State Fish and Wildlife Area are only a few of the sites in the Peoria Area open to fishing, wildlife viewing, boating and bird watching.
http://www.pambamtb.org/ for more on Peoria Area Mountain Biking.
http://www.illinoisriverroad.org/ the official site of the Ilinois River Road National Scenic Byway.
http://www.peoriaparks.org/ the Peoria Park Districts official website.