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While you’re in the land of Lincoln, visit the Lincoln Prairie Trail to make the trip complete. Starting at the trailhead in northwest Pana, leisurely stroll along a paved trail that is nicely separated from the rural highway. The route offers a fairly flat and straight shot to Taylorville with a combination of tree-canopied sections and more open areas.
The trail skirts several active silos via on-road routes as it passes through Millersville and Owaneco, but these short diversions are well marked and located on very lightly traveled small-town roads. The trail is well woven into the local communities and surrounded by the region’s many farms. Depending on the time of year, you can find corn, soybean, and sunflower fields for many miles.
One trail highlight is the stretch along Lake Taylorville and the South Fork Sangamon River on the north end of the route. At the time of this writing, the bridge over Flat Branch was closed; however, this closure doesn’t detract too much from the end-to-end experience. As you approach Taylorville, the development patterns become more suburban, and the trail ends unceremoniously at South Paw Paw Street.
The City of Pana owns the trail. Upon completion of the new bridge over the Flat Branch (expected in 2020 or later), the City of Taylorville will own the portion from Paw Paw Street to the Owaneco city limits. Volunteers from the Lincoln Prairie Trails Conservancy have been making asphalt repairs, trimming & mowing where needed, promoting trail use and expansion, and working to improve the overall trail experience.
For updates on trail construction, maintenance and events and the work volunteers are doing to keep the trail in shape, check the Lincoln Prairie Trails Conservancy Facebook page.
Parking can be found at the southeastern end of the trail in Pana. From I-70, take Exit 63 for US 51. Head north on US 51 for 29.6 miles. As US 51 N approaches Pana, it becomes Fair Ave. and then Poplar St. Near the center of town, Poplar St. intersects with Washington St.; turn left onto Washington, which is also IL 29. Follow Washington west and then northwest as the road curves 1.1 miles to E. 350 North Road; the trailhead parking lot is located on your left at this intersection.
On the other end of the trail, parking is available in Taylorville. Follow the directions above to IL 29/Washington St. Turn left onto IL 29, and go 15.4 miles. Just after passing IL 48 in Taylorville, turn left onto E. Main Cross St. Go 0.4 mile to S. Paw Paw St., and turn left; in about 280 feet you will see the trail and the unpaved parking area on your left.
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