Ride 40: Short But Sweet

  Biking Illinois: 60 Great Road Trips and Trail Rides  

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Mahomet, IL           July 11, 2005

When I ordered a free greenways map from Champaign County, it gave me a couple of ideas for my book. The first, a ride around Champaign, didn't work out. While there are plenty of short trails, bike lanes, and other cyclist-friendly features in that university town, I couldn't find a good way to cobble them together into a good ride. The other area that showed promise was Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve on the north side of Mahomet.

I chose to start at the west end of the preserve at mile marker zero  and follow the trail to the east end and back. The parking lot there is small, but the one at the east end is even tinier. Signs on Crowley Road warn not to park on the side of the road. There is more parking elsewhere in the preserve, so on a nice weekend you might have to start somewhere along the way.

The  west side of the forest preserve is mostly prairie. In addition to the paved bike path, there are mowed hiking paths. The trail starts in the trees but soon enters the open prairie.


East of IL 47, the trail passes the Mabery Gelvin Botanical Gardens.




This bridge crosses the Sangamon River, which also runs past Springfield.



For some reason, I didn't stop to take pictures in the forested section east of the bridge. The trail's only weakness is that it's only 3.3 miles long. A Champaign reporter pointed out to me during an interview that the ride could easily be extended north on county roads to Fisher, a small town on US 136 with a Casey's General Store where riders can refuel for the return trip. That would add about 7.5 miles each way, stretching this ride into a 21.6-mile jaunt through preserve and farmland.


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