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You can make connections all over the countryside from the Madison County Transit (MCT) Ronald J. Foster Heritage Trail. The paved path travels 12.2 miles between the villages of Glen Carbon and Marine and hooks into a 130-mile network of interconnected trails that MCT has been creating since 1993.
The trail is named for a former mayor of Glen Carbon, Illinois; the city originally built the trail on the disused corridor of the Illinois Central Railroad in 1991. Illinois Central was one of three railroads that passed through the coal-rich community from nearby St. Louis, Missouri. In 2012 the village transferred trail ownership to Madison County Transit, which upgraded and extended it.
Today, the trail retains historical markers (that tell about Glen Carbon’s coal-mining history) and connects with two other trails, the MCT Nickel Plate Trail (more than 25 miles long) and the MCT Goshen Trail (which spans about 9 miles). These make off-road connections to other trails in the network: the MCT Nature, Quercus Grove, Schoolhouse, and Watershed Trails.
Starting in Glen Carbon at the junction with the MCT Nickel Plate Trail near Citizen Park, you’ll enter a wooded area along Judys Branch where the Illinois Central hauled coal from the mines. The area was settled as Goshen in 1801, but the coal boom from the late 1800s to 1930s prompted the name change.
Passing through woods and crossing suburban streets on the way out of town, you’ll enter a 150-foot tunnel beneath Troy Road at 2.5 miles. Skirting the Greenspace East Park (bicycling is prohibited in the park), you’ll cross the junction with MCT Goshen Trail and reach a trailhead parking lot less than a mile from the tunnel. Just past the trail crossing, there’s another tunnel (Old Troy Road) and soon you’re out into open farmland.
When there’s a break in the trees that border the trail, you’ll see that cropland is predominant. Keep your eyes open, however, for areas where biologists are attempting to reestablish grasses and other natural prairie vegetation.
At 4.8 miles past the Goshen Trail junction, you’ll find the 340-foot Silver Creek trestle, 1 of 10 spans that MCT rehabilitated when it took over the trail.
In 4 miles, you arrive in Marine. Legend has it that sailors were among the first settlers in the 1800s, and the waving prairie grasses reminded them of the open seas, hence the name. Despite its “marine” history, the village prohibits swimming and wading in the lake at Marine Heritage Park that marks the end of the trail.
To reach the western trailhead at Citizen Park on S. Main St. in Glen Carbon: From I-270, take Exit 9 for IL 157 toward Glen Carbon and Collinsville. Go approximately 0.9 mile south on IL 157/N. Bluff Road, and turn left onto W. Main St. Go 1 mile (W. Main St. turns into S. Main St.) and turn right onto Daenzer Dr. at the fire station. Enter Citizen Park and take the first right at the baseball field and proceed to the parking lot.
To reach the eastern trailhead at Marine Heritage Park: From I-70, take Exit 21 toward Staunton and head north on IL 4. Go 1.7 miles and turn right onto IL 143/W. Division St. Go 1.1 miles and turn left onto N. Verson St. Go 0.4 mile and turn left onto Mill St., then immediately turn right into Marine Heritage Park.
Super nice trail. Well kept and super nicely shaded. Just a heads up: park at the Glen Carbon trailhead. It makes the ride back so much easier bc it's vaguely uphill. Also of note: some seriously weird noises along trail nearing Marine. Chickens?
First 4 to 5 miles coming out of Mairne was all open farm fields. The rest of the ride was mostly all shade. Nice paved trails with recently rebuilt bridges. All in all a nice ride!
The trails are great and are a good way to get through the area. One spot has a sign that says no skateboarding and I'd been skateboarding there for a long time so I called a lot of people and finally got info that skateboards are totally allowed on all glen Carbon heritage trails. I don't know who put the sign up but it might want to be taken down if all parts of the trails allow skateboards
I started this trail in Marine, Illinois and headed towards Glen Carbon for about 5 miles before turning around. The ride was just beautiful and quiet. I loved the wooded area and the sounds of the water running under me. The bridge was an unexpected pleasure. I will be riding this trail a lot I feel.
Reconstruction of this trail is now complete. It is newly resurfaced and has new bridges, making for a very fine ride. A grand reopening ceremony was held the weekend before Memorial Day.
Construction is just about done and the new surface (asphalt) is great. There are still a couple of road crossings toward the Eastern end of the trail that need to be finished but, once done, the trail will be fantastic. I think it's one of the better trails now in the MCT trail system, a system that is absolutely fantastic to begin with.
Very well maintained! Just beautiful!
I rode from Marine all the way to the Lewis N Clark park near Alton and back a couple of weekends ago. 86 miles round trip and the whole ride was wonderful. The Madison County Transit Authority gets big kudos from me for supporting such a wonderful network of trails. I had to do a bit of street riding (across town in Grant City - 20th street) and then again to connect coming back from Lewis N Clark on bike trail that is side of rode but very clearly marked and plenty wide. I stopped in a little restaurant in Grant City for lunch (Piasi Pantry - right on 20th street) wonderful place - locally owned and run - very welcoming to a biker. The scenery changed from rural to small town to lakes and back - wonderful wonderful. The trails can be a bit of a maze though so I highly recommend you grab one of the many maps they provide and keep it handy.
I just rode on it today for the first time because it was 60 degrees outside. I rode from Glen Crossing Road to where the trail is currently closed (on Main Street by Citizens Park) because of the construction on IL 157. This trail was different from the other trails in Glen Carbon because of the pavement. I enjoyed the scenery a lot. I am about to ride on it again in about 5 minutes! I loved that trail!
The trail now goes to Marine another 4-miles. About 1 mile from Marine where it went under highway 4 it's closed because they are replacing the railroad bridge with a trail one. I went around it anyway.
"There where really 4 r.r. that ran through there. The L&M, the I.C.and C&NW both use the L&M. and the N.P. The news thing at the trail in Glen Carbon says the New York Central ran through there. Who ever wrote that goofed. N.Y.C.& St.L Stood for New York, Chicago & St.Louis. Part of the N.P. symbol. The same I.C. line between Waggoner and Farmersville around 4 and one half miles is a trail. They say all the way to litchfield someday. But they been saying that for yrs.
"I found the Glen Carbon to be an undiscovered gem. It's a nice trail with a variety of terrain, plus it has some historical postings and pictures of the way the old rail line used to appear. It's a great place for a walk, particularly on a fall day."
"I really enjoy this trail. It is the perfect distance for me and it also connects to another trail in Glen Carbon if you want to go further. The best part of the trail is that it is mostly shaded and there aren't many cross roads.
I ride a comfort bike and this trail is perfect for that. I have also seen some wild animals, including a bobcat, which was pretty exciting. There are rumors that this trail will eventually run near Highland and I really hope that does happen.
For the recreational bike rider, I would give this trail a perfect 10."
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