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The Carlyle Lake Bike Trail is located in one of Southwest Illinois's most popular recreational areas, just 50 miles east of St. Louis, Missouri—not far from that area's abundance of great trails, as well. Since the Army Corps of Engineers built the dam forming Carlyle Lake in the 1960s, it has continued developing the areas around it, together with the State of Illinois and the City of Carlyle. The trail connects with city streets at three locations on its western side.
There's a lot to see and do throughout the recreation area by the dam. Along the western portion of the trail and its branch that runs northward, there's a visitor center, beach and beautiful marina with large sailboats; there are also wonderfully wooded campgrounds and picnic areas. Then there's the dam with its 1.2 mile trailway right on top, and the descent to the spillway and beautiful river walk and wetlands below. There are always folks fishing in the river, all the way to the bridge. You have to stop there and read all the plaques and interpretive signs about the long history of the area, the Goshen Road and the bridge.
Back up on the main trail, it continues east for 2.8 miles, mostly on a dedicated bike lane, past woodlands, prairies, scenic overlooks of the lake and South Shore State Park. The last 3.6 miles are along the top of a levee, with views of woods and wetlands on one side and farmland on the other.
Take Exit 45 from I-70 at Greenville and turn south onto State Route 127. Proceed 17.1 miles to William Road and turn left. Following the signs, go 0.6 mile to the Carlyle Lake Visitor Center, where there's parking on both sides of the road. The trail runs along the broad pathway across the road from the Center.
Parking and trail access are also available just off US 50, east of the historic suspension bridge and spillway.
My favorite bike trail! So clean and scenic!
Parking and trail markings are the only reason this trail looses a star. Tried to park at the trail head on the map at a campground and was told to park further up the trail at the dam recreation site. No big deal except it cut 2 miles off the trail one way. The trail over the dam and is very scenic and wide where it shares the road with car traffic. After this the trail seemingly ends according to sign markings but a quick jog down a smaller road without a dedicated bike trail gets you to the levee portion which is more hard pack than asphalt. Easy to peddle on my hybrid though. Very beautiful country and flat grade made for a wonderful morning 16 miles!
We really enjoyed the ride around the lake. It took a little exploring because it isn't well marked in certain places, but so nice. We currently have had so much rain in the area that bits of it were flooded. The path is mostly concrete and asphalt and hilly enough in spots for a good workout. Next time we will stop at the Fish House Restaurant half way through. So glad we went!
The scenery was beautiful today, trees with vibrant fall colors, the lake with sailboats, blue skies..... We started our ride east of the lake , north of 50 on boulder road. We passed up the trail because we were looking fior an asphalt/concrete trail and a place to park. The trail started out with rock, then crushed limestone, then onto a road. There were no bike trail signs . We rode to lake dam then down by suspension bridge and back to where we parked vehicle. It was a good ride, not an easy one as we were expecting a better surface. On website it says asphalt/ concrete but fails to mention the rock and limestone. We needed a few bike trail signs to direct us also. I would not recommend starting where we did.
It was hard for us to enjoy the ride along the top of the levee on the eastern end of the trail. The day was too hot, there is no shade, and the trail surface was pretty rough when we were there. It improved when we got to the midsection through the State Park and along the roadway west to the dam area. Even the long, straight road across the dam was better, because at least we could enjoy the panorama of water, trees, and more people out and about. Then came the trail along the river below the dam, the historic suspension bridge, the beach and marina back up on top.. and *west* made it all worthwhile! The trail through the river and park areas is really beautiful! Much like along the Corps of Engineers sister project, the Rend Lake Bike Trail.
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