Distance: 8.3 Miles
Difficulty Level: Easy
Parking:Corner of East Walnut and North State Street, Chatham / More parking near Springhill Suites in Springfield
Ebike Friendly: Class 1 & 2 Ebikes Should Be Fine*
I have finally began my bike trail guide series of articles which will become a new section on The Journier. This is something I have wanted to do for quite a while. I’ll be scouting out areas and bike trails that are ebike friendly and reporting back. For now I’ll be concentrating on Central Illinois but this guide will expand much farther over the years – Lord willing.
Springfield/Chatham Interurban Trail
Springfield, Illinois has an extensive web of bike trails linking much of the city. In this article I’ll be focusing on the Interurban Trail that links Chatham to Springfield along an old rail line. Many bike trails throughout the country are along former rail lines that are no longer in use.
The advantage to using these old railroad transportation routes is that their grade is usually slight since trains aren’t the most efficient at hauling their heavy loads up hills.
The Interurban trail is almost completely flat from beginning to end with only a hill along a section that wasn’t originally part of the rail line.
I began in Chatham where there is a gravel parking lot designated for the trail on the corner of East Walnut and North State Street. There are nearby restaurants and in the future I’ll try to find a good local eatery to try out.
A large part of the trail parallels the Amtrak line which is still in use. You may experience a train pass quickly by but the tracks were quiet during my excursion.
The beginning of the trail is in a residential area which is very popular with pedestrians and bicyclists. As you journey on the traffic thins out significantly.
You’ll also pass Piper Glen golf course with its manicured lawns. Just northeast of this along the trail is a wooden bridge over Lake Springfield. During the early spring, fall and winter you’ll have a good view of the lake. There are picnic tables available near the bridge.
Very close to the bridge is a wildlife preserve. The Lick Creek Preserve offers mountain biking through a forested area with views of Lake Springfield. I would have missed the trail if I hadn’t noticed the sign.
Since I wasn’t riding a mountain bike I didn’t venture onto the dirt trails but it looks like a great place to view wildlife.
Mountain bike trail directly off of the Interurban paved trailThe path is paved mostly in asphalt and then with concrete along newer or refurbished stretches. There are some rough spots where roots and/or freezing and thawing have lifted the trail and making a bumpy ride but much of the path is smooth.
There’s one small stretch that follows a rural road that was full of potholes during my visit. There was only a narrow strip of smooth pavement to traverse but it was manageable.
Continuing on you’ll ride along farm fields of corn and soybeans. Much of the trail is shaded and protected from the wind but as you come out under Interstate 72 you’ll be in an area that is wide open. Here you’ll be snaking through commercial lots that are mostly empty and the path comes near Scheel’s, a popular destination in Springfield, and Springhill Suites.
There is another parking lot for the bike trail nearby as well. You’ll also find a small picnic area.
Past this you’ll be riding through residential areas in Springfield along the Wabash Trail. There is a Sonic’s right along the path where you can eat back all the calories you’ve burned and then some if you desire.
My daughter and I rode for exactly 10 miles a little past Sonic’s along the Wabash Trail and then turned back but the Wabash Trail continues on for a few more miles.
While the Interurban Trail isn’t the most scenic I’ve been on, it does offer a good workout along a mostly level 8.3 miles to the Wabash trailhead. It links Chatham with Springfield and provides a view of Lake Springfield and access to Lick Creek Preserve which offers natural areas to bike or hike. It would be very pretty in the fall.
Well, this is my first article and future ones will include more photos and a video. Anyway, I’m thrilled to begin this section of the site!