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The Rend Lake Bike Trail, in the heart of southern Illinois, goes around nearly half of the second-largest man-made lake in the state. Along the way, trail-goers will enjoy picturesque views of the tree-lined water, prairie grasslands, wetlands, waterfowl and other wildlife. The trail is mostly flat, except where it descends from lake level to cross the Big Muddy River below the dam and spillway.
The trail is comprised of three discontiguous sections, all separated by stretches of narrow rural highways many will feel too unsafe to ride. But each section stands alone on its own merit, even if all are not ridden together. Future trail plans include connecting these three sections.
The first 5.9-mile section of the trail—the only section that is crushed stone and not concrete—begins in the northeast, between the village of Ina and Rend Lake College. From there it enters Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park and approaches the Rend Lake Resort, before turning to pass through woods and meadows and end at State Route 154.
Off the same SR 154, just west of I-57, the second and shortest section of the trail (3.8 miles) continues southward past the Southern Illinois Artisans Shop & Visitors Center, Seasons Lodge and Golf Course, and more woodlands and open spaces.
The centerpiece of the 10.9-mile southern trail section is the large and well-staffed visitor center just west of the dam. From there you can ride east for 4.8 miles, down to cross the river and back up to a campground and day use area. From the visitor center you can also ride north for 6.1 miles, past a marina, a beach, and multiple campground and public use areas.
Multiple parking and access points are available at the campgrounds and beaches along the trail, at the Rend Lake Visitor Center and in Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park.
To reach the Rend Lake Visitor Center from I-57, take Exit 71 and turn west onto State Route 14. Go west for 2.7 miles and turn right onto Rend City Road. Proceed 2.9 miles to Rend Lake Dam Road, turn left and immediately back right into parking lot.
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