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The MCT Quercus Grove Trail begins in Edwardsville at its junction with the MCT Nickel Plate Trail. It begins on city sidewalks and alleys near Edwardsville's historic downtown area and very quickly loses itself in the dense tree cover of the old rail line. The entire trail is nearly flat, except at Old Carpenter Road in Edwardsville, where the old rail trestle bridge was removed and the trail now plunges about 50 feet from its elevation on either side.
Leaving Edwardsville, the rail-trail alignment closely parallels Old US Route 66 (now State Route 157), and the woodlands view gives way more and more to open farmland. The trail and route diverge gradually until Jerusalem Road, where the trail leaves its rail alignment to go east and follow alongside the route all the way to Hamel—a quintessential Old Route 66 village that now celebrates its connection with the Mother Road. It's a great place to rest and look around a bit, and it's very close to the half way mark for the trail.
On the north edge of Hamel, the trail and Old Route 66 diverge again as the trail continues on to the village of Worden, where it once again becomes a rail-trail along its original rail alignment. Then at Spangle Road, it crosses to an active rail-with-trail alignment that again crosses Old Route 66 (now State Route 4), before continuing on to trail's end in Staunton.
The rail-trail sections of the Quercus Grove Trail are along alignments of the old Illinois Traction System (Illinois Terminal Railroad) of electric trains which once connected St. Louis, MO, to Springfield, IL. Various other MCT Trails are also on sections of this old rail network—as are the McKinley Bridge Bikeway, Benld-Gillespie Bike Trail and Interurban Trail.
There is official trail parking at these locations:
I ride this trail from Staunton to Edwardsville a few times a year and it never disappoints. It's great flat relaxed ride just close to 40 miles round trip.
Road from Collinsville to Staunton and back yesterday, 8/7/14. Its about 60 miles round trip. Very nice ride. Trails are in good shape mostly paved. There is one section between Grove road and Jerusalem road that is hard packed crushed stone. Not a problem even with road bike tires. The Circle K (Phillips 66) has a good selection of cycling eats and drinks to refuel and recharge for the trip back. It is located at the corner of Hibbert and Pearl in Staunton just a few blocks west of Union. (Union is the street you come into town on.)
Another place to stop is the Shell station in Hamel a couple blocks East of 157, main drag, on State St.
Overall good ride I'll plan on doing it again.
Rail-trails are always fun to ride. Especially this one that's along sections of the old and storied Route 66, as well. Hamel is a must-stop along the trail. Lots of signs and businesses celebrating an older day, an older way of living. On the rail-trail, it was exciting to come to the big drop at Old Carpenter Road, and imagine the tall trestle bridge you know HAD to have spanned that gap in yesteryear. It will be so good when more sections of this old ITS right-of-way are dressed up into modern trails -- all the way to Springfield!
The info on the website is incorrect. The trail does not end at Hazel Road, but rather extends another 2.7 miles northeast to Jerusalem Road. Taking Jerusalem Rd. east for .8 miles will get you to the trail extension heading northeast all the way to Staunton now. From Edwardsville, the trail is paved to Hazel Road. After that it's compacted dirt up to Jerusalem Rd., but it's wide, very well maintained, perfectly fine for walking and biking. It's a good trail in the summer, since much of it is shaded. If you want to start at Jerusalem Road, there is inofficial parking available for a couple of cars at the trailhead.
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