The Madison County Transit (MCT) Schoolhouse Trail is part of the Transit District's premier, 85-mile system of urban and suburban trailsmany of which are former railroad corridors, all of which are linked with public transit.
The trail begins at the southwest corner of Horseshoe Lake State Park at Harrison Street in Madison. The smooth asphalt path travels east over Route 203 via a trail bridge and then onto the old railroad corridor. For a few miles, the trail shares this route with a utility corridor and passes heavily industrial business areas.
For this first part of the journey, Horseshoe Lake remains hidden from view to the southeast. But be patient. At mile 4, the lake bursts into view when the trail emerges from a pocket of trees. The lake offers excellent bird watching. In late summer, the lake's southern portion is drained, drawing snowy egrets and great blue herons to feast on clams and snails. Just after the lake comes into view, watch for a trail connection on the leftthe MCT Nature Trail
. Take this route if you wish to take an off-shoot trip 11 miles to the town of Edwardsville.
About 1 mile farther along, the trail leaves Horseshoe's shoreline and moves to a corridor parallel to Lake Drive. You soon cross State Route 111, and the trail takes on a more rural feel, with vast farm fields on both sides. Interstate 55 looms ahead, and crossing under it brings you to the outskirts of Collinsville. Just when it seems like a more urban environment will prevail, the trail plunges you into wonderful woodlands behind very tidy neighborhoods. It is quiet through the hardwoods, disguising your proximity to a major interstate. The trees occasionally open to offer glimpses of the open fields that mark the landscape beyond the forest.
The town of Maryville almost sneaks by, but you will want to catch the respite offered by Drost Park on the trail's left. From here, you have just 1.6 more miles to the trailhead at State Route 162. This trail's end marks the beginning of the MCT Goshen Trail
, which offers 7 more miles of pavement into the town of Edwardsville.
Access the Madison trailhead from Interstate 55 by taking Route 203 north for 2.3 miles. Turn left onto Harrison Street; the trailhead is on the left.
To reach the trailhead in Troy, take Interstate 55 to Route 162 west. The trailhead is just over 1 mile ahead on the left just past Kennedy Drive.
We came from Melbourne, Australia to sample a few cycling rail trails. We brought our tandem recumbent with us. We collected a very comprehensive map from the Madison County Transit One Transit Way
Granite City, IL 62040-7500. The staff there were very ...