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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 at 206 South Paw Paw Street, where the Lincoln Prairie Trails Conservancy recently built a complete trailhead facility including a rain shelter, accessible picnic table, and an eleven-space (including accessible spaces) concrete parking lot.
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 non-profit have been promoting trail use, enhancement and expansion since 2017, including doing asphalt repairs.
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.
Near 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.
Parking is available at the northwest 3nd of the trail in Taylorville at 206 South Paw Paw Street, where there is an eleven-space (including accessible spaces) concrete parking lot, a rain shelter and an accessible picnic table.
Heavy leaf cover and branches and other debris from trees completely cover the pavement in many areas along the trail which require very slow and careful navigation when on a bike. Stopped several times to either walk bike through rough patches or to pull twigs lodged between tire front fender. This trail is not maintained at all and needs a thorough sweeping by villages or organization tasked with keeping trail in a safe and reasonably maintained condition for the enjoyment of everyone whether biking or hiking.
There are sections of this trail that are very rough. After a few miles...I just gave up beating me and the bike to death. This could be a beautiful trail if it just had some repaving and trimming.
We enjoyed our first out and back ride on the Lincoln Prairie Trail on a hot and sunny morning. First the positives. Beautiful farmland scenery over a 13.5 mile straight line from Pana to Taylorville. Tree cover is intermittent and very welcome on a sunny day with the exception of a 2 mile long open stretch just east of Taylorville. There are a number of really beautiful stretches where you’re going through a tunnel of trees along the way. For those looking for a flat trail, this fits the bill. Over our 27 mile out and back ride we gained a mere 250 feet of altitude. As for the less positive elements, the pavement varies between good and poor condition. The opening 2 miles from Pana is pretty rough with lots of grass and weeds growing through cracks in the pavement. In other areas there are a lot of cracks and bumps that detract a bit from the ride. Be aware that there are no amenities along the path. Use the restroom at the McDonalds in Pana before starting as the porta-potty at the Pana parking lot is not very nice. Also be sure to pack water and a snack as there is no where to get something along the way. Despite the negatives, we really enjoyed our ride and will be back. If you love beautiful farm scenes and a flat ride you should enjoy the Lincoln Prairie Trail. When we reached the north end near Taylorville we were greeted with an imposing concrete barrier that keeps you from crossing a small bridge and completing the last mile into Taylorville. I hope they can raise the funds to repair the bridge as it would really be nice stop for a refreshment before returning to Pana.
My partner and I decided to try this trail out because I used to run it frequently several years ago. We knew about the issue with the bridge, but we were hopeful it had been fixed. When we got to the Taylorville trailhead at Paw Paw Street and saw that the letters had been taken off the road sign warning trail users that the bridge was out. Alas, when we got a mile in, we were met with the closed bridge. I hope that they fix the bridge soon, or at the very least update the sign on the Taylorville end.
Other that that, trail was in pretty decent condition. Only saw one other person on the trail, but that's understandable considering that there wasn't much trail to use on that end.
Nice trail, fair amount of shade and open, could of used a little trimming little overgrown in spots overall good experience just wish they would get the bridge back open
We started our ride at the Pana end of the trail with plans to have lunch in Taylorville. The trail was an easy, flat ride with short sections of bumpy trail but our hybrid bikes handled this well. Near Taylorville there was a lot of debris (branches/leaves) on the trail including a fallen tree. Despite being able to get around that, we ran into the bridge closure that prevented us from grabbing lunch in Taylorville. Very disappointing!
Rode today and cant go through to Taylorville and cannot ge on at Taylorville. Get on at Pana and its clear for about 12 to 13 mi. Straight shot.
My wife and I rode the trail on 7/5/2018. We started from Pana and rode north to Tayorville. The trails is in pretty rough shape in areas and in need of some maintenance. We should have brought our hybrids instead of our road bikes. It would have made for a much nicer ride.
We parked in the parking lot of the park at Lake Taylorville to avoid the closed bridge and rode to Pana and back. I admit it was mid-day on a Thursday, but we only saw one other rider the whole time.
The cracks in the blacktop made for a not very smooth ride. Add to that all the small branches and twigs to get caught in your spokes AND all the hickory nuts (?) in places and it wasn’t our best ride, but it was a ride and I can mark this trail as ridden.
My 14 year old son and I rode the trail from Pana to Taylorville and back, nearly the full distance twice for the boy scout cycling merit badge (50 miles). About a mile before reaching the end of the trail in Taylorville, there is a bridge that is closed and there is no easy way to detour around it. The pathway has a few places where the pavement has separated or had tree roots have raised it, but they are marked with white paint. Some of the cracks have been filled with tar and others with very fine gravel. The northern half of the trail is mostly shaded with trees on both sides of the trail (so there are some leaves and small twigs on the trail) whereas the southern half is mostly without shade. There are two small towns where you take a short detour from the otherwise very straight trail. The elevation is slightly higher on both ends of the trail with the middle about 150 feet lower (but it is a very slow, gradual change in elevation). We drove an hour to get to the trail head and it was definitely worth it!
My husband and I rode 12 miles on this trail yesterday after not riding it for a year. We started in Pana at the parking lot. We ran out of daylight, otherwise we would have put on more miles. The cracks in the asphalt were patched. The weeds needed cutting from Pana to Millersville. Someone cut the weeds in Millersville. Someone cleared the area around most of the benches, and the benches themselves were in good shape. One of the bridges needs work, but is easily crossed. This trail is so much better than half a dozen other trails in Illinois, and yet we saw no one one it at a time of day (after work and school for many) when other trails begin to get crowded. We kicked the walnuts off the trail, and moved some dead branched. It is good to go.
I rode this trail yesterday beginning at the parking lot outside Pana and heading to Taylorville. It was quite enjoyable. Obviously it's an older asphalt trail that suffers from some pretty large cracks along the way. Those jolted me more than once. But I'd certainly ride it again.
This is a great trail.
We took the advice from other reviewers and started near the Lake in Taylorville as we passed the bridge that was closed.
This is a awesome trail. Fairly flat and easy to ride. We passed a few people also enjoying the path. It's well maintained. Lovely scenery, peaceful and quiet. (at least the day we was on it)
This is a unique bike trail whigh is good and bad. First I rode from Taylorville Lake to the parking lot near Pana and back...24 plus miles. During the whole time I only saw 4 bikers and 1 walker. This is the good part because I am used to crowded bike paths. and since I like to ride sort of fast (17 mph max) I didn't have to be concerned for others. The lack of others is a good thing since some parts of the trail were not wide enough to pass others due to weeds and tree limbs on the sides and weeds growing up in the middle of the trail. Some weeds were mid wheel height. Another reason it is good that I did not need to be concerned with others is that I needed to be concerned about ridges and holes on the trail surface. Thank you to those who took time and painted the worst of these areas so I could avoid them. I want to say thank you and bless you to the people who take care of the trail. One section was mowed on both sides. I am sure these are acts of kindness by volunteers. Also the bridge between Taylorville and Taylorville Lake has been closed so park at the lake to head south to Pana.One last thank you to those who took time to plan and build this trail. It is just too bad that no one is responsible for maintaining it.
my only real complaint is that I started at the trailhead in Taylorville and rode a half mile only to discover that a section of the trailer been closed. I loaded my bike back up and drove out to Taylorville Lake and parked there and rode the trail 6 miles and then came back. it has a few service issues due to the age of the blacktop but I've ridden much worse.
My girlfriend and I drove thirty minutes down from Springfield. We started in Taylorville and rode to Paw Paw. They trail was empty. It was nice cause we could really cruise without having to worry about running into families out for a walk. Make sure to pack a snack if you're going both ways.
On 5-3-14 My Son had to take a State Of Illinois Firearm Training class. Before we drove up to Taylorville, I researched the area for PAVED trails. I was Pleased to find a paved trail up that way. After reviewing some of the posts I read on this site, I was concerned about the condition of the pavement. I am from Madison County, IL & we have very well maintained paved trails.
I ride a road bike with 23mm tires. Yes, there was some debris from trees, and yes, I noticed "spray painted" warnings defining defective pavement. (only south of Owaneco)
BUT this did not bother me. From Taylorville to Pana, I ripped down the pavement over 20 MPH. Anyone who complains about the condition of this trail should stay home & watch Oprah...
Owaneco is a very small town, Easy to ride through. I stopped at a wine & ale establishment called "The Angry Kitty" The owner was nice & filled up my H2O bottle with water & ice. Don't get too excited, Owaneco is not a town you'd find on the KATY Trail...
South of Owaneco is a small place called Millersville, the pavement stops for a very short distance, there is a gravel stretch that may concern you if you road bike. But I never got a flat. The local road bikers were ripping though the gravel fast... I'm just not used to doing that... I hate 23mm tires & gravel...
Per my Garmin, from Taylorville to Pana & back was 29.1 miles. I found South of Owaneco to Pana boring & not the most exciting part of the ride. That said, if your wanting a shorter ride, do Taylorville to Owaneco & back.
Parking was OK in Taylorville, But much better in Pana. I parked in Taylorville, my truck was fine once I arrived back.
The trail descends from Taylorville to Pana. From Pana to Taylorville my speed dropped.
All in all it was a great ride. Thanks to whom ever was responsible for the construction of this trail.
If I am ever in the area again, I will ride this trail, there is Nothing wrong with it.
Check out my pictures...
I started riding a little over a year ago and having this wonderful trail less than a mile from my back door is certainly a big plus. I have logged over 3,000 miles on it. Most of the first five miles (from Taylorville)is heavily wooded, followed by a one mile stretch having a total of one large tree, then back into the woods for 3/4 mile and into Owaneco. From there to Millersville (2-3 miles)it's intermittent woods and open areas. The pavement ends for +/- 250 yards and then there's wide, smooth concrete through the rest of Millersville. If you like to go fast, this is your best opportunity on the trail as there's a +/- 20 foot drop from the township road intersection to the South end of the FS plant. I've attained nearly 30mph there on my hybrid(with a tailwind), so you "roadies" could likely go pretty fast. Be careful, though; there's a jog to the right at the bottom and then the trail regains most of that "altitude" in less than 100 yards. From there, there are gradual ups and downs, and rotating woods and open areas for about 4 3/4 miles to the Pana trailhead. The amazing thing about this trail is that, at least for me, no two rides have ever been the same. Varying weather conditions and wildlife around the trail make it a new adventure every time. If you're in the area, you're missing a great ride if you don't try the Lincoln Prairie Trail.
I rode this trail from Pana to Taylorville. Total round trip was 30 miles (by my odometer) and it took about 3 hours of pedal time. The surface was paved and all hazardous bumps were marked with white paint. There was no debris on the trail except some twigs and maple seed pods that you would expect in a natural area. The trees that bordered most of the trail would be wonderful on a hot day, and were quite welcome as some protection from the rain that followed us all the way. The paved surface was a luxury in the rain. We appreciated the metal shelter about halfway on the trail in one of the little towns on the trail. A brief break from the rain was so very welcome. We saw plenty of wildlife and literally "smelled the flowers". Trail is mostly bordered with trees and wildflowers with a few open stretches. The rain made everything look so lush, fresh, and clean! We rode into Taylorville for lunch and then back to the parking lot in Pana. We saw one walker and one bike rider total. Solitude! I am amazed that such a small community has been able to build and maintain a trail of such length. Much larger cities, my home included, have failed to provide such an opportunity. We took bags and would have picked up litter, but there was NO litter on the trail anyplace. I'm sure this is thanks to many volunteers who work hard to keep it ready for people like me to ride...FOR FREE! Thank you for your work!
My wife and I rode the length of this trail from Pana to Taylorville and back. There are a couple of places the trail diverts on roads through towns along the way (Millersville for one) so you have to pay attention to the signs.
The trail is in relatively good shape. Considering the trail is subject to the freezing and thawing effects of the Central Illinois winter I would consider it a fairly well-maintained trail. When we were there the rough patches had been marked with spray paint.
All in all a very good ride and well worth doing.
I've seen some criticisms of the trail. Like all rail-trails, this one relies on users and volunteers to help maintain it; there's no full-time maintenance crew.
Therefore, one may encounter sticks, nuts, berries, etc. on the trail. Remember, you're on a nature trail, so some debris is to be expected. Also, please remember that wildlife does use this trail and one may encounter animal droppings. I've seen foxes, deer, coyotes, raccoons, opossums, birds, ground hogs, chipmunks, snakes, toads, turtles, felines, and canines on this trail. As for the dead animal, the trail parallels the highway and there is the possibility that an animal that has been struck by a vehicle may wander onto the trail and expire. We do our best to keep up on things, though.
There is some pavement degradation, in some areas (mainly the bridges), and we've tried to mark them all. The municipalities are aware of them and are devising plans to address them. Like all levels of government, funding is an issue.
There are vending machines at Lake Taylorville Marina (restrooms, too), Kiwanis Park (straight south of the lake parking area-restrooms, too), Fisher's Packing Plant (on Main Street in Owaneco), and in town at either end of the trail.
This trail came about because of a local grassroots effort to make it happen. We're doing our best to maintain and offer a trail that is worth experiencing. Please, don't let the negatives of the minority taint your curiosity about this rail-trail. Come see for yourself.
Yesterday the wife and I rode the entire trail on our tandem trike. The asphalt trail surface itself is in good condition, but there are spots that could really use some clean up: thick cover of leaves and twigs, clumps of grass growing up in cracks, weed and brush encroachment on sides; even spoke-bending walnuts and messy wild cherries. We found great parking in the lot at Taylorville Lake. There at Kiwanis Park there are nice restrooms; and both the small towns on the trail have grain elevator offices where one can make an emergency stop. At the Pana trail end, you can avoid the heavy traffic of going into town on Route 29 by crossing it immediately onto city streets, there at the CR 12 intersection.
Our group of three rode the trail on a very hot day on July 7, 2012. The trail itself is in great shape. Smooth asphalt. Plenty of shade early in the morning. The bridges are nice as are the wooden mileposts along the trail. Being a Saturday we encountered ten to fifteen other cyclists on the trail. We rode from Pana to Tatlorville and back. There are no restrooms or water along the trail so be sure to bring plenty if it's a HOT day
My husband and I were on the trail in the spring of this year. We were on it twice last year. We like it. Yes, mowed grass and some twigs were on parts of the trail, but compared to some truely neglected trails in Illinois, (Parts of the I&M Canal Trail) this one is fine. The surface is still in ok shape (It is not new.) The worst problem we saw was dog poop. New benches are in place about every two miles starting in Pana. That is a nice touch for those of us over age 65. We never see but one or two others on the trail. Not unusual when you consider it is not in a highly populated area. We have a home in Mattoon and ride this trail sometimes because we prefer paved to the cruched limestone trail of the Mattoon-Charleston area. There is no water and no rest roomon the Pana section. We have never ridden all the way to Taylorville.
My wife and I love this trail. As a local (Owaneco)resident we walk and ride this trail frequently. For a small community with a small budget it in fantastic shape. Unknown to alot of people it is mostly kept up by those who use it. As frequent walkers we will carry pruners and trim when needed. We have seen alot of workers when we are out and about on this trail. Some with chainsaws, mowers, etc to keep the trail looking great. We cant always get every stick,branch nor dead animal off the trail.....it is out in nature and nature is still king on this trail. So in response to the rider who didnt care much for it, thats ok, not everyone will....but , if you see a big fallen branch/stick, I guess common sense would say to stop and pick it up so the next person doesnt hit it.
I would say to anyone that has never ridden this trail, you will love it. It is very scenic; wildlife abounds on this trail, as well as older farm houses, creeks, wild flowers and open fields. Both ends of the trail ,Pana and Taylorville offer some great restaraunts and shops as well.......Have fun......enjoy your time....
We came from Melbourne, Australia to sample a few cycling rail trails. We brought our tandem recumbent with us.
We stayed for two nights in Taylroville Market St. B&B. Myrna the host was very hospitable. She offered us information and map of the Trail and even had bicycle for rental. We started from the B&B along local streets and onto the Trail. The May, 2012 day was hot and sunny but the Trail was shady and green. The surface was smooth and the ride was very pleasant. We cycled to Pana and back. A pity the Trail ended abruptly just before Pana and we had to cycled on very busy road to town for lunch. The Trail could be extended at least with line on the road as there is a nice park just beyond the shopping center. We enjoyed the experience and leave some photos of the Trail for posterity. We drove next to Maddison County rail trails on hwy 55.
As a cyclist who grew up in central Illinois, developing an interest in this activity in recent years, I was EXTREMELY "let down" by my experience on this trail. My wife and I rode from Pana to just south of Taylorville, and back, and found this to be the worst paved trail that we have encountered! Our experiences have included trails in Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, and several in Florida. Within 100 yards of the Pana trailhead we encountered freshly mown grass and a very large number of small limbs thrown onto the trail by the mower. This continued for a mile or two. We continued to find limbs as large as an inch and a half in diameter lying on the trail for the remainder of our ride. We also noticed a dead animal on the trail some three miles out. We continued to dodge these obstacles for several miles until we had had enough and gave up some ten miles out! We will never ride this trail again, and our advice to others is to totally avoid this trail. It is not worth throwing your wheels out of true and dodging tree limbs , sticks, and dead animals. Since there are few paved trails of any length in central Illinois, it is unfortunate this one is in such poor shape! Save yourself the aggravation and go somewhere else. You will be much happier!
six of us took 3 tandems on the trail the 26th of august. really enjoyed the scenery and the level terrain. one of the cleanest trails we have ridden but it does need bathrooms at one end but we did ride into town for a bite and they had facilities there. we would certainly ride it again. we drove over 400 miles to ride the trails in ill. and it was worth every minute of it !!!!
To make this ride we traveled from Edwardsville to Pana and on to Taylorville. We had gotten conflicting reports on this trail but we can attest to the fact that it was most enjoyable. Friendly people, lots of prairie, and beautifull flowers all along the trial. You must keep in mind that we do not race our trikes, we ride our trikes and smell the flowers. Who ever were the promoters of this trail did a great job and we say thank you. Hopefully, this trail is extended in both directions. We really like how Pana has promoted this trail. We parked at the Taylorville Lake lot to start our ride but the end of the trail is actually two miles further into Tayloville but no signage. As an asset for Taylorville, young and old were walking or riding from various area subdivisions or from Taylorville to the Lake area. Safe and accessible. Now that's what I am talking about! Have a great day and support this trail by letting you city, county, state, and federal officials know how you feel about this and other rails-to-trails.
"One person says no place in Taylorville to park. I've parked there and rode to Pana before, And the one saying no water fountains, heck take a couple water bottles. It's only around 29 miles round trip. I have no trouble with water. Now when and if they do the rest of it, between Taylorville and Rochester, which will make it around 40 or so miles one way, then worry.
"I couldn't find any water fountains along this trail. Any hints? Otherwise, a nice, surprisingly well-kept trail running through rural Midwestern country. Trails like this make me appreciate living here. Watch out for the Farm Supply set of anhydrous ammonia tanks near Millersville; twice I have biked by and they have been leaking!!"
"I live in Lincoln. And I saw the ones doing the trail. I had my moutain bike with me and watched them put the stuff down for a few miles,and then followed them on my bike on the trail. Hope they do the rest between Taylorville and Rochester. Some of where the B&O R.R. ran, whice was suppose to be part of the tail, is or was suppose to be part of hi. 29. Heck, the tracks were pulled up back in 89. I seen then pull up some of it.
"Not a bad trail, beware of the section around mile 9 (from Taylorville) where you suddenly find yourself on deep gravel without any warning."
"I rode this trail a few days ago. I started in Taylorville, which brings me to my first complaint. Why the city of Taylorville decide that they didn't need car parking at the beginning of the trail, I will never know. It's totally Ludicrous! You pretty much have to park at the lot at Lake Taylorville. Thus you miss two miles or so of the trail.
With that said, the other end (Pana) was done right. There is a parking area just for cyclists. I loved it! Thanks Pana for doing what T-ville couldn't.
Now, as far as the trail goes, it's awesome. It's surfaced with asphalt and is well maintained. The problem is it's 15 miles of straight as an arrow trail. The few roads that you do cross are rural, making them nonfactors. If you're looking for a nice scenic route to enjoy with the family then this trail will somewhat disappoint, what with the sparkling view of the T-ville Correctional Center and farmland.
But, as far as hopping on your bike and getting a great workout, then this trail is the ultimate for that purpose. I saw one other person on the trail when I was there. So it's not used much. It's definitely a great workout trail."
The trail has been completed and you no longer have to take the three-mile detour down the rough country road. It's now a nice 30-mile Saturday morning round-trip ride.
"I had a chance to do the first seven miles of this trail out of Taylorville. It is a great trail, paved and well signed. The starting point in Talorville is hard to find but well worth it as you wind through trees for the first three miles before opening out into corn fields."
"My 16-year old son and I rode the trail in its entirety by bicycle on Saturday, August 10, 2002.
We are from nearby Effingham (45-minutes away by car), so we loaded up our bicycles into a van for the trip to Pana.
This trail is located on the northwest side of Pana. We had a little bit of difficulty finding the trail at first. But once we did find it, it was smooth sailing.
The asphalt track is in good shape. There was one detour area at about the four mile point, but after that the trail is complete.
There's not much to see, though, really, until the old town of Owaneco and then the approach to Taylorville, which definitely is more scenic than the Pana portion of the trail.
Nonetheless, it's sure nice to see the trail in place. We enjoyed our total 30-mile (round) trip, and we'll definitely be back - perhaps with more family members in tow.
Young riders should be cautioned to always stop at the many yield signs on the trail.
-Scott R. Ealy"
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