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The Madison County Transit (MCT) Nature Trail goes through richly varied surroundings of city, farm and wood. In the west, it begins at beautiful Wilson Park in Granite City. From there, it makes its way through older city neighborhoods, where it provides a safe off-street path for local use. It does lack good signage in places; the first-time user may have trouble staying on course. But it’s a good way to slow down and enjoy this old river and railroad city.
The trail has two significant trail spurs to surface drainage features of this middle Mississippi floodplain. One goes north along a wide levee and canal system; one goes south to Horseshoe Lake and the MCT Schoolhouse Trail that runs along its shore. Just before this latter spur turns off, the trail crosses railroad tracks and becomes rail-with-trail and rail-trail, all the way to its end.
The trail continues through a wetlands area to intersect with the MCT Nickel Plate Trail, and then it's on to open farmlands of the fertile American Bottom. At one point, it goes alongside and crosses Chain of Rock Road, which was once a part of Old Route 66. At University Drive, the trail meets the MCT Bluff Trail, its link to the campus of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
At that point, the trail leaves the floodplain and climbs gradually to wooded bluffs bordering school properties and residential neighborhoods, going on to cross the MCT Goshen Trail and the MCT Nickel Plate Trail (again) before it comes to an end in the old Leclaire neighborhood of Edwardsville.
To reach trail parking and access from I-270, take Exit 9 and go north on Bluff Road. At the stop light, continue straight ahead onto University Drive. Go 0.9 mile and turn left onto Country Club Road. As soon as you cross the lanes of southbound University Drive, turn back right onto Bluff Road. Drive 0.2 mile to the parking lot on the right.
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