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Find the top rated mountain biking trails in Jackson, whether you're looking for an easy short mountain biking trail or a long mountain biking trail, you'll find what you're looking for. Click on a mountain biking trail below to find trail descriptions, trail maps, photos, and reviews.
My husband and I started at the Tunnel Hill Trailhead and rode south 25 miles to the Wetland Center and then back. It was a beautiful ride. We were impressed how well it was maintained. A fallen tree that we had to climb over on the way out was already cut and pulled off the trail on our way back.
At least one snake, five deer, several hawks and what I thought was a very challenging ride since I rarely do 46 miles. The washboard effect could be noticed from Karnak to the wetland center head to the center.
My sons and I still loved the challenge.
I rode from Vienna up past the tunnel on a crisp spring day in April on my hybrid bike and loved every inch. Make no mistake, the gentle uphill grade to the tunnel may seem Slight but it took its toll on me. GREAT ride
I have only ridden from Vienna to Tunnel Hill and back but I did drive down to the Wetlands Nature Center at the southern end as well as go to Karnak and check it out. Even had lunch at "Our Place Deli". I wish I would have given myself more time and got to actually Bike the whole thing but I will be back for sure to enjoy the whole experience. It is easy to see why people love and care for this trail the way they do. I will give myself at least 3 days on the trail to fully enjoy it next time, especially the southern end. It is a shame there isn't any campgrounds listed close by on the northern half.
Rode the trail from Harrisburg 27 miles south to view the Eclipse right on the line of totality. I was expecting a packed trail but was surprised to see very few people. The trail surface was fine for my hybrid bike. Enjoyable scenery with the trestles and tunnel.
After viewing the eclipse I rode back in the heat. Even though there are plenty of trees covering most of the trail the mid day sun still gets through. Thank goodness for the small town stops with water so I could reload and refresh my water bladder. I hope to take this trail again to Karnak.
I probably could have gotten home faster to Bloomington (ordinarily 4 hours by car) if I had stayed on my bike. It took 10 hours in bumper to bumper traffic to get home!
I rode this trail end-to-end in 2005, and this was my first return visit for a ride on the northern half from Harrisburg through the tunnel and back, a total of 49.6 miles. Harrisburg has a paved 2.2 mile segment with numerous street crossings; the locals seemed very aware of the trail, and more than one driver stopped to wait for me to cross. While this is a kind gesture, it holds its own dangers. I always remind my riding companions to watch out for traffic in other lanes who are still coming through.
The next few miles were hard-packed stone, very smooth and easy to ride. After that the stone was still smooth but just a little bit softer packed. It was a good surface but I realized late in the ride that I had expended more energy than expected most of the day, and it caught me by surprise that at 35 miles my legs felt like they had done the full 50.
I spotted one ATV rider using the trail and noticed a few spots where someone's access road jogs for a few feet on the trail, but the surface was not damaged noticeably by these activities. There was one stretch of 100 yards or so with a lot of very loose gravel that had eroded or not been properly patched, but I was able to steer to the edge and get through OK.
There is a mix of sun and shade, an interesting rock cut to ride through, and the tunnel is short enough that a light is not strictly necessary. I would urge anyone without a light to walk their bike through the darkest part of the tunnel.
Johnson's Southern Barbecue operates from a mobile home with a separate screened dining tent at the Harrisburg trailhead. It looks intriguing, but I had leftovers waiting in the motel fridge and missed that opportunity.
I'll come back and ride the southern half of the trail again sometime. My memory from 12 years ago was that the last stretch from Karnak to Rago was not a rail trail and held little interest. The Barkhausen Wetlands Center was a nice place to end, but I spent most of my time in the restroom with the cold water running to cool myself on a 100 degree day.
We rode the entire trail over a two day period, camping by a lake in the Shawnee National Forest. This is about the only place along the trail camping is allowed and we had a tough time finding a site. There is a wonderful campground in the Village of Karnak that the town runs. It has both tent and RV sites, restrooms, picnic tables, fire rings and wood and water but no showers. The town folk were very friendly and went out of their way to make sure we were comfortable. We used it as a base camp before and after the ride. The trail was well maintained and the trailside facilities were nice although due to Illinois' budget deficit, some state facilities including the Depot Museum at Vienna were not open.
My wife and I had a free Sunday in mid-summer so we took an impromptu trip to seize the Tunnel. We started our journey at Tunnel Hill State Park in Vienna. A very nice TH with a small museum, restrooms opened early and a nice place to picnic. Immediately heading north, we crossed a historic small span, steel sided bridge (one of many) which set the historic RR tone for the entire ride. The terrain in this section was truly a surprise; you’re biking in a sunken rail bed with rocky outcroppings on one side and the Little Cache Creek on the other. Two interesting things of note was the final resting place of an old International Harvester combine and an old barn with its original large stone foundation. Another surprise and a must stop is Sandburn Junction. You can take a shaded break and get a cold drink, snacks and ICE CREAM from the store on the honor system. The trail could be re-named as the Big Trestle Trail because when you think you have gone over the best trestle you have ever crossed you will ride over another better until you ride the marvelous 450’ span behemoth. Continuing riding uphill, we finally ran into the tunnel! We rode the through the tunnel without lights (check for oncoming riders first). You would think that it would never get completely dark because you can see the exit, but about mid-way it will become completely dark (only a couple of seconds in a very fun way). We continued toward New Burnside where the trail terrain completed changed. Now you have arrived at the Sugar Creek lowlands where the feeling was more like riding on a gravel road surrounded by raw nature. In the middle of this area you will ride upon a surreal/picturesque spot where there are the abutments to an old bridge….let your mind wander. Our return point was New Burnside; not a bad spot but no functioning water source or store but the restrooms were clean and operable. Our return trip, which seemed downhill all the way, was wonderful except for the 2’ copperhead in the middle of the trail. We came upon the snake in the lowlands before the tunnel and after much consternation, we decided to ride around the backside of the snake which was sunning and did not even move.
We very much enjoyed the trail and thought it was well worth the 3-hour one-way drive. The next time we plan to make it a long weekend to ride the entire length of the trail and camp at Shawnee National Forrest to visit the Garden of the Gods and Cave-In-Rock.
I've been looking forward to biking this trail for a couple of years, but my ride on September 9th from Harrisburg to Karnak left me feeling rather underwhelmed. Much of the trail surface was rough from motorized vehicle tracks, wash-outs had been repaired with white rock instead of finely crushed limestone, and the bridge decks rode like rumble strips. There are mile markers on the trail which I assume correspond to the old railroad line because they were in the triple digit range, but they aren't printed on any map so are useless.
If I had it to do over again I would do an out-and-back between Karnak and Tunnel Hill. This section contains most of the trestles and of course the tunnel. Vienna has several restaurants; Jumbo's had a nice Sunday buffet and was only .6 of a mile off the trail.
I'm sure those who live within an hour or so enjoy using this this trail, but it really wasn't worth the 3 hours I drove to get there.
Great ride from Vienna to the tunnel and back. Bridges and tunnel are awesome and so is the scenery. First time on crushed limestone and I think it rides like pavement, although it will really dirty up your bike. Loved this trail and want to do more of it!
Very accommodating staff, right off the trail across Rt 45. Great food,free water and places to charge your phone if needed it's the only water stop after Tunnel Hill! The water fountains in New Burnside and Stonefort are out of order!! Very clean establishment!
This trail is actually a little over 10 miles long. There are a few spots where tree roots cause the asphalt to be uneven in one area of the trail...other than that, it's in safe condition to ride or run on.
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