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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.
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