Tunnel Hill State Trail


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Tunnel Hill State Trail Facts

States: Illinois
Counties: Johnson, Pulaski, Saline, Williamson
Length: 55.2 miles
Trail end points: Barkhausen-Cache River Wetlands Center at IL 37 (Cypress) and Eldorado High School Athletic Fields, east of N. Main St. (Eldorado)
Trail surfaces: Boardwalk, Concrete, Crushed Stone
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6032279

Tunnel Hill State Trail Description


With a dark railroad tunnel and two dozen trestles crossing streams and rocky ravines, the scenic Tunnel Hill State Trail travels 55 miles through forests, wetlands, farmlands and towns in the rural countryside of southern Illinois. The aptly-named town of Tunnel Hill marks the route’s crest, where a 543 foot tunnel changes a gentle uphill into a gradual downhill in either direction.

About the Route 

The western endpoint of the Tunnel Hill State Trail is at the Barkhausen-Cache River Wetlands Center, in Cypress, 3.5 miles south of the town center. From here, the trail heads east to Karnak through the swampy Cache River State Natural Area, home to giant cypress trees, some 1,000 years old. In Karnak, the trail passes a campground, where it turns northeast to follow Karnak Rd, on a straight-away enveloped by tree canopy. In Belknap, the trail passes the Heron Pond–Little Black Slough followed by the Cave Creek Glade Nature Preserves, both wetland forests rich with wildlife. After passing underneath US-45, the trail comes to the town of Vienna, where a trailside park offers a spot to rest, peruse the Forman Depot Museum, or take a look at the giant penny-farthing sculpture. Cafés and groceries are also available nearby in town. 

Continuing to make its way north, the trail enters the Shawnee National Forest and steepens slightly on a 6 mile stretch between Bloomfield and its highest point in Tunnel Hill. Here, as the name suggests, a 543-foot tunnel takes the trail into pitch black. A flashlight or bike lamp is a must. As it re-emerging into the light, the trail comes to a trailhead in the town of Tunnel Hill, which has bathrooms, parking, and drinking fountains. 

A high canopy of the Shawnee National Forest provides ample shade for the 6 mile forested stretch between Tunnel Hill and New Burnside. Once it crosses IL-166 in New Burnside, the trail follows nearby US-45, which it runs adjacent to for 1.5 miles approaching the town of Stonefort. Here, a restored railroad depot next to the trail houses a museum. Northeast of Stonefort, US-45 remains in sight most of the way to Carrier Mills. Keep an eye out for turtles and snakes, which also like to use this trail. 

After passing farm fields, the trail comes to the east side of Harrisburg, the largest town on the route, with restaurants, grocery stores, and motels nearby. Leaving Harrisburg, the trail crosses IL-13 and then a bridge across Middle Fork of the Saline River, before continuing for 8 more miles northeast to Eldorado. Upon entering Eldorado, the trail shares an on-road right-of-way with Kennedy St. for just under a mile. The Tunnel Hill State Trail’s northern endpoint is near the Eldorado High School athletic fields, about 1200 feet due east of 2213 N Main St. in Eldorado.  


In Eldorado, the Tunnel Hill State Trail connects to the Eldorado Bicycle and Walking Path, another rail-trail.

Trail History

This gem of Illinois rail-trails was built on the former Cairo and Vincennes Railroad, which was completed in 1874 and hauled coal from southern Illinois mines, as well as produce, timber, and passengers. The railway’s tunnel in Tunnel Hill tunnel was originally 800 feet long, but a section of it collapsed in 1929, leaving the 543 feet that remain today. Over the years, the railroad went through a series of ownership changes, and the tracks last belonged to Norfolk Southern Railroad, which turned the corridor over to the state in 1991. The first sections of trail opened in 1998. 

Parking and Trail Access

The Tunnel Hill State Trail runs between Barkhausen-Cache River Wetlands Center (Cypress) and the athletic fields at Eldorado High School (Eldorado), with parking available at the endpoint in Cypress. 

Parking is also available: 

  • 302 E Vine St (Vienna)
  • 20 W 2nd St (New Burnside)
  • 1422 US-45 (Eldorado)

There are numerous parking options along this route, see TrailLink Map for all parking options and detailed directions.

Tunnel Hill State Trail Reviews

Tunnel Hill rail trail

Snakes are out keep your eyes out and your feet up :) Tunnel Hill is a breathtaking rail-to-trail experience that truly stands out for its natural beauty and historical charm. The trail winds through the picturesque landscape of Southern Illinois, offering a serene escape for cyclists, hikers, and nature enthusiasts alike. One of the most striking features of Tunnel Hill is its namesake tunnel, which is a fascinating relic of the old railway. This long, dark tunnel provides a unique and slightly mysterious segment of the journey, adding to the adventure. The trail itself is well-maintained, with a smooth, packed gravel surface that makes for an enjoyable ride or walk. Along the route, you'll be treated to a variety of scenic vistas, including lush forests, rolling farmlands, and beautiful creek crossings. The diverse scenery keeps the journey interesting and provides ample opportunities for photography and wildlife spotting. In the fall, the foliage is particularly stunning, making this a great destination for leaf-peepers. What makes Tunnel Hill truly special is its peaceful, uncrowded atmosphere. Whether you're a seasoned cyclist looking for a long-distance ride or a family wanting a leisurely day out, Tunnel Hill offers something for everyone. The gentle grades and numerous access points make it accessible to all levels of fitness and experience. In summary, Tunnel Hill is more than just a trail; it's an immersive experience into the natural and historical richness of Southern Illinois. It's a must-visit for anyone who loves the outdoors and wants to explore a trail that is both beautiful and steeped in history.

Harrisburg to Katnani and back

Rode from Harrisburg to Karnak and back today. Great trail. A little wash out about 10 miles north of large tunnel. Not much on trail. Bathrooms at Harrisburg locked. Saw very few riders. A few walkers. One guy on an electric bike with a rifle.

Beautiful trail going through a National forest

Excellent trail going with a large section that goes through the Shawnee National Forest. The trail is very well maintained and in excellent condition for the entire length except for 1.6 miles that is under repair. The previous reviewer stating the need for a full suspension mountain bike are completely inaccurate. I have done it on 32c tires many times and while this particular section is indeed under repair one you can always dismount and walk this short section and enjoy the scenery. The rest if the trail is in great condition with evenly spaced rest areas, pit toilets, water, trash cans, and ample parking. This area of Illinois is beautiful with many excellent campgrounds and sights seeing


It is a tale of two trails, one Southwest of the tunnel, the other, if it can be called a trail, Northeast of the tunnel. In late September my brother and I road both. Our first day we rode from Karnak to the tunnel, and back again, around 43 miles. That part of the trail is reasonably maintained, with trussell bridges and lush cover from thick forests. It was a long ride, but the hills rarely exceeded a 5% grade. So we expected the trail from the tunnel to Harrisburg to be the same.... It is not. Expect loose crushed stone in many places that 36c tiers will sink into, and 1/4 inch gravel in others to repair the surface, as well as washed out dips on the sides of the trail. Expect to fall approx. 25 feet into snake infested water if you should go off the side when you have to make a quick direction adjustment. (I assume snakes are in the water since we road past a few snakes on the trail, one a cottonmouth that showed us its dental work.) If you plan to ride the Northeastern section from the tunnel to Harrisburg you will need a mountain bike with full suspension. A gravel bike or a hybrid is not enough.



We rode today from Stonefort to tunnel hill and it has some washed out spots and is rough in spots

tunnel hill north should be closed

Tunnel hill south was a wonderful trip! The tunnel was beautiful, take a flashlight. The next day we wanted to ride north, MISTAKE about 2 miles you will see a sign trail damage, what an understatement. We rode another 1.5 miles and hit a spot you had to walk your bike through, we bike for fun and this was not fun so we turned around. 600 mile road trip to ride this trail.

Awesome Ride 9/5/23

What a great trail. My wife and I have of list of trails and this is one that should be on yours. We rode out of Karnak , we got in night before and stayed at Brothers Main campground. Grate place and right across from trail head. Site had water and power. We were concerned about trail being crushed stone and we had a lot of rain night before. We did 45 miles and only ran into three ruts from run off rain. Had a great time and will do again, we will try and catch the fall colors next time. Thanks state of Illinois for an awesome ride

I biked this trail Saturday from Vienna to Stonefort. Beautiful trail. I wish Illinois would invest in more trails.

I biked this trail Saturday from Vienna to Stonefort. Beautiful trail. I wish Illinois would invest in more trails.

beautiful ride!

We rode this trail from Vienna to the tunnel. It was stunning going over the bridges. There’s a little outpost before the tunnel where you can buy ice cream or some water (honor system so bring cash)

Back Country Trail

Our second time riding the trail. Amazing scenery lots of wildlife and of course a awesome tunnel. Vienna is a great place to stay and has a nice city park by the trail with plenty of parking and picnic area.

Tunnel Hill Trail Review

My husband and I rode this trail on 9/6/2022 and 9/7/2022. The first day we caught the trail from our hotel in Harrisburg and got about 4 miles south of Carrier Mills. The trail is in pretty decent shape. It's crushed stone, but could use some minor maintenance, as the underlayment in some areas is exposed and has larger rocks poking through. The first day we rode my husband ended up with 2 flat tires, due to the larger rocks. The second day we rode from Stonefort to Belknap. It was a beautiful ride. There is the tunnel in Tunnel Hill plus many bridges along the way. The area is mostly shaded as well. Vienna has a nice park, with flushable toilets. Just a note: we did walk part of the trail from our hotel in Harrisburg 1.5 miles north and we did hit a bridge on the trail that did seem unsafe, many of the planks need to be replaced, there were chunks missing out of several of the planks.

Vienna to New Burnside and back.

My husband and I rode on a pretty hot afternoon because it had rained in the morning. We took plenty of water and snacks. The trail was a bit cooler because of tree cover, this would be so pretty in the fall. We were able to stop at Sandburn Junction for a frozen treat on the way and water on the way back. We weren’t sure if the pump water at New Burnside and Tunnel Hill was safe to drink. Great ride even with the heat

It's not 5 stars

Rode it on June 10, 2022 from Cache River Wetland Center to Vienna, IL a distance of approx. 27 miles round trip. The trail is fairly straight and level with plenty of shade, beautiful scenery and wildlife. BUT, it is covered with crushed limestone which has been allowed to accumulate in the track to a dept of 1 to 2 inches in places. Additionally, some idiot has used white rock to fill in places. If you have thin tries, I would not recommend this portion of the trail. It needs to be graded and compacted, then it would be 5 stars.

Scenic and Peaceful

Over two days, rode from the southern end at the Barkhausen Cache River Wetlands Center north to Stonefort. Beautiful scenery, lots of birds and very peaceful, encountered only a few other riders and walkers.

From South to North on an out and back

This is a great trail that offers plenty of options for all level of cyclists. The trail is well maintained but there are short sections where gravel was put down versus crushed limestone and could be a challenge for those riding a bicycle with skinny tires. Water was available on the trail but all the air pumps at the trailheads were unusable due to issues with the pump heads but the restrooms were open. There is tree canopy along 95% of the trail which made all the difference on an unseasonably warm day for May. There was plenty of wildlife to be experienced especially as we launched back to our car at sunrise which included deer, box turtles, chipmunks, lizards and of course snakes which included some of the poisonous variety. We spent the night in Harrisburg and enjoyed a superb gastro experience at Morello's with an extensive menu and excellent wait staff. In my opinion, I would avoid the section of the trail from Harrisburg to El Dorado as it is poorly maintained, exposed to the sun and eventually turns into a road. Enjoy the Tunnel Hill Trail experience!


My husband and I rode from New Burnside to 4 miles past Tunnel Hill—about 22 miles. The tunnel was cool, literally. Ride is Almost entirely wooded—saw a snake, possum, turtle, otter (I think) butterflies and birds. A great day!

Late October Beauty

We rode from Vienna to Tunnel Hill & back. A beautiful, scenic, peaceful ride. 20 miles round trip. Don’t miss this ride!!!!

August 15, 2020 Karnak to El Dorado

Stayed at the Main Brothers camp ground in Karnak, IL which is about 2 miles from the official trail head. The primitive camp sites at main brothers were right next to the road. Full trail is 110 miles plus the two I road to the trail head. Trail is more rough than people say. Choose the right bike. Trail north of Harrisburg is single track so 15 miles round trip was slow going and full sun. Bring water but know there are a lot of water stops. Get food in Harrisburg if you ride that far. There is only one true tunnel so know that and expect to enjoy a lot of nature.

Tunnel Hill Trail Vienna to Stonefort, IL

Wooded, shady, well maintained densely packed fine gravel. Only noted one place for snacks, so bring sufficient water & snacks. Clean rest stops along the way.

Tunnel Hill

95 degrees on the way to the trail, 75 degrees on the trail. Shaded 95%. Beautiful scenery Nice path Very low grade Plenty of deer If you stop the mosquitoes will carry you away so use your Skin So Soft from Avon Works great Smell great

Very Nice Trail

My wife and I took the trail from Vienna IL. to Harrisburg IL. for our 29th anniversary, Uh lala how romantic (he says with a wink). 34 miles one way. We packed overnight cloths and stayed in an Airbnb, "The Apartment at 217" in Harrisburg. Loved the apartment and our hosts. Stopped in Stonefort on the way up and ate lunch at "Bucketheads", a must stop. Nice staff and good Cajun food. We've ridden from Karnack to Vienna before so we have completed the whole trail. The ride from Vienna to Tunnel hill is the prettiest part. 9.3 miles from Vienna to the Tunnel. When you get to the tunnel you can feel the cool air and it feels great on a hot day.

Nice Surface

Trail was in great condition with packed fine rock. Thought maybe all the rain in spring of 2019 would cause washouts, but surface is in great condition.
Trail south of Vienna is flat and little traveled, I just met one couple in 12 miles. Need insect repellent south of Vienna as the area is swampy.
Trail north of Vienna is uphill all the way to the tunnel, then downhill to the north. There is a little store open at New Burnside just south of the tunnel.

Vienna to Tunnel Hill.....and back

Took the family of five (3 kids ages 6-12) and had a great experience! We took lots of photos along the way, even stopped for ice cream in Sandburn crossing.

Great Saturday Ride

My husband and I started at the Tunnel Hill Trailhead and rode south 25 miles to the Wetland Center and then back. It was a beautiful ride. We were impressed how well it was maintained. A fallen tree that we had to climb over on the way out was already cut and pulled off the trail on our way back.

Wetlands Center to Tunnel Hill and Back

At least one snake, five deer, several hawks and what I thought was a very challenging ride since I rarely do 46 miles. The washboard effect could be noticed from Karnak to the wetland center head to the center.

My sons and I still loved the challenge.

awesome trail

I rode from Vienna up past the tunnel on a crisp spring day in April on my hybrid bike and loved every inch. Make no mistake, the gentle uphill grade to the tunnel may seem Slight but it took its toll on me. GREAT ride

Very nice ride!

I have only ridden from Vienna to Tunnel Hill and back but I did drive down to the Wetlands Nature Center at the southern end as well as go to Karnak and check it out. Even had lunch at "Our Place Deli". I wish I would have given myself more time and got to actually Bike the whole thing but I will be back for sure to enjoy the whole experience. It is easy to see why people love and care for this trail the way they do. I will give myself at least 3 days on the trail to fully enjoy it next time, especially the southern end. It is a shame there isn't any campgrounds listed close by on the northern half.

Eclipse Totality 2017

Rode the trail from Harrisburg 27 miles south to view the Eclipse right on the line of totality. I was expecting a packed trail but was surprised to see very few people. The trail surface was fine for my hybrid bike. Enjoyable scenery with the trestles and tunnel.

After viewing the eclipse I rode back in the heat. Even though there are plenty of trees covering most of the trail the mid day sun still gets through. Thank goodness for the small town stops with water so I could reload and refresh my water bladder. I hope to take this trail again to Karnak.

I probably could have gotten home faster to Bloomington (ordinarily 4 hours by car) if I had stayed on my bike. It took 10 hours in bumper to bumper traffic to get home!

Scenic, with a good surface

I rode this trail end-to-end in 2005, and this was my first return visit for a ride on the northern half from Harrisburg through the tunnel and back, a total of 49.6 miles. Harrisburg has a paved 2.2 mile segment with numerous street crossings; the locals seemed very aware of the trail, and more than one driver stopped to wait for me to cross. While this is a kind gesture, it holds its own dangers. I always remind my riding companions to watch out for traffic in other lanes who are still coming through.

The next few miles were hard-packed stone, very smooth and easy to ride. After that the stone was still smooth but just a little bit softer packed. It was a good surface but I realized late in the ride that I had expended more energy than expected most of the day, and it caught me by surprise that at 35 miles my legs felt like they had done the full 50.

I spotted one ATV rider using the trail and noticed a few spots where someone's access road jogs for a few feet on the trail, but the surface was not damaged noticeably by these activities. There was one stretch of 100 yards or so with a lot of very loose gravel that had eroded or not been properly patched, but I was able to steer to the edge and get through OK.

There is a mix of sun and shade, an interesting rock cut to ride through, and the tunnel is short enough that a light is not strictly necessary. I would urge anyone without a light to walk their bike through the darkest part of the tunnel.

Johnson's Southern Barbecue operates from a mobile home with a separate screened dining tent at the Harrisburg trailhead. It looks intriguing, but I had leftovers waiting in the motel fridge and missed that opportunity.

I'll come back and ride the southern half of the trail again sometime. My memory from 12 years ago was that the last stretch from Karnak to Rago was not a rail trail and held little interest. The Barkhausen Wetlands Center was a nice place to end, but I spent most of my time in the restroom with the cold water running to cool myself on a 100 degree day.

Nice Trail, Limited Camping

We rode the entire trail over a two day period, camping by a lake in the Shawnee National Forest. This is about the only place along the trail camping is allowed and we had a tough time finding a site. There is a wonderful campground in the Village of Karnak that the town runs. It has both tent and RV sites, restrooms, picnic tables, fire rings and wood and water but no showers. The town folk were very friendly and went out of their way to make sure we were comfortable. We used it as a base camp before and after the ride. The trail was well maintained and the trailside facilities were nice although due to Illinois' budget deficit, some state facilities including the Depot Museum at Vienna were not open.

Carpe Tunnel

My wife and I had a free Sunday in mid-summer so we took an impromptu trip to seize the Tunnel. We started our journey at Tunnel Hill State Park in Vienna. A very nice TH with a small museum, restrooms opened early and a nice place to picnic. Immediately heading north, we crossed a historic small span, steel sided bridge (one of many) which set the historic RR tone for the entire ride. The terrain in this section was truly a surprise; you’re biking in a sunken rail bed with rocky outcroppings on one side and the Little Cache Creek on the other. Two interesting things of note was the final resting place of an old International Harvester combine and an old barn with its original large stone foundation. Another surprise and a must stop is Sandburn Junction. You can take a shaded break and get a cold drink, snacks and ICE CREAM from the store on the honor system. The trail could be re-named as the Big Trestle Trail because when you think you have gone over the best trestle you have ever crossed you will ride over another better until you ride the marvelous 450’ span behemoth. Continuing riding uphill, we finally ran into the tunnel! We rode the through the tunnel without lights (check for oncoming riders first). You would think that it would never get completely dark because you can see the exit, but about mid-way it will become completely dark (only a couple of seconds in a very fun way). We continued toward New Burnside where the trail terrain completed changed. Now you have arrived at the Sugar Creek lowlands where the feeling was more like riding on a gravel road surrounded by raw nature. In the middle of this area you will ride upon a surreal/picturesque spot where there are the abutments to an old bridge….let your mind wander. Our return point was New Burnside; not a bad spot but no functioning water source or store but the restrooms were clean and operable. Our return trip, which seemed downhill all the way, was wonderful except for the 2’ copperhead in the middle of the trail. We came upon the snake in the lowlands before the tunnel and after much consternation, we decided to ride around the backside of the snake which was sunning and did not even move.
We very much enjoyed the trail and thought it was well worth the 3-hour one-way drive. The next time we plan to make it a long weekend to ride the entire length of the trail and camp at Shawnee National Forrest to visit the Garden of the Gods and Cave-In-Rock.

Underwhelmed, sorry!

I've been looking forward to biking this trail for a couple of years, but my ride on September 9th from Harrisburg to Karnak left me feeling rather underwhelmed. Much of the trail surface was rough from motorized vehicle tracks, wash-outs had been repaired with white rock instead of finely crushed limestone, and the bridge decks rode like rumble strips. There are mile markers on the trail which I assume correspond to the old railroad line because they were in the triple digit range, but they aren't printed on any map so are useless.
If I had it to do over again I would do an out-and-back between Karnak and Tunnel Hill. This section contains most of the trestles and of course the tunnel. Vienna has several restaurants; Jumbo's had a nice Sunday buffet and was only .6 of a mile off the trail.
I'm sure those who live within an hour or so enjoy using this this trail, but it really wasn't worth the 3 hours I drove to get there.

Tunnel Hill trail

Great ride from Vienna to the tunnel and back. Bridges and tunnel are awesome and so is the scenery. First time on crushed limestone and I think it rides like pavement, although it will really dirty up your bike. Loved this trail and want to do more of it!

New BBQ Restaurant in Stonefort, Free water for your bottles!!

Very accommodating staff, right off the trail across Rt 45. Great food,free water and places to charge your phone if needed it's the only water stop after Tunnel Hill! The water fountains in New Burnside and Stonefort are out of order!! Very clean establishment!

New Campground Along Trail

The City of Karnak has just opened a campground alongside the trail. Karnak is situated at the southern end of Tunnel Hill Trail (about 2.5 miles north of the Barkhausen Wetlands Center.) Current sites are only suitable for tents but they have plans to open up RV sites (water/elec)soon. $10 a night, no showers but there is water. Each site has a picnic table, fire ring and the city provides the firewood. Several nice little cafes and a grocery store are within 2 blocks. If anyone is looking for a great weekend getaway to try out bike camping this is the perfect opportunity. To make a reservation call Karnak City Hall, 618.634.9311.

Beatiful covered ride

Actually road part of this back in August 2014. Started in Vienna, Il. and road up to the Tunnel Hill stop. Love the bridges and the shade. Packed a small cooler with me for lunch and water. Riding in the tunnel was freaky!! All you can see once you are in is the light at the end of the tunnel, literally! Plan on going back this year with the wife and do just a downhill part. This ride was my first 25 miler.

tunnel hill state trail

Father's day weekend we parked at the Wetlands Center, very nice center and extremely helpful staff. We left the center and headed for Harrisburg, trail condition was very good,solid, and smooth.The main complaint is the LACK of water. Vienna was the only trailhead with a working faucet.We spent the night at Eco lodge in Harrisburg. 60$ for the night,clean rooms.MORELLOS,was our choice for supper, very good food.Overall good trail.might do it again in cooler weather.

The southern half of Tunnel Hill

On June 29th 2016 I rode from Tunnel Hill to Karnak, at the southern end of the trail, and back. I got a rather late start so I opted not to do the short wetlands section going west out of Karnak. The temperature that day was in the low eighties with fairly low humidity which is not typical for this time of the year here - think subtropical! There are great lengths of trail in the deep shade and they were noticeably cooler after coming out of the sunlit portions.

The terrain is full of limestone outcroppings, heavy forests, and many small creeks and rivers running in deep cuts through the limestone bedrock. There are long stretches of trail with no road crossings and there are two cast concrete tunnels under busy roads. The trail has a very rural feel to it and one could imagine in many places that this is the way the country looked to the pre-Columbian inhabitants of the region. Vienna is at the midpoint of the southern half and has a beautiful park on the trail. It is also the only settlement of any size on the southern half.

The trail itself is paved with crushed rock and crushed limestone and is in very good condition. I had 32 mm touring tires on my single speed and had no handling problems what so ever. Experienced riders could use smaller tires with a little sacrifice in comfort.

Just south of the tunnel there is a bike rental place with water and cold drinks for sale. Take note that water stops can be far apart!
Also note that riding through the tunnel can be very disorienting. Coming into it out of the bright sun, even with a pretty good headlight, your eyes can't adjust quickly enough to see anything but inky blackness all around you, except for the other end of the tunnel which is large enough and bright enough to keep your eyes from readjusting. It was a strange experience and it would be very easy to scrape the tunnel wall or crash.

Aside from the many birds the only wildlife I saw that day were two small snakes and a turtle.

I really enjoyed Tunnel Hill Trail and look forward to riding it again soon.

Two first on this ride,,,, My first Tunnel trail and my First Century ride !!

I rode here yesterday (6/28/16) for my second Rails-to-Trails ride and my FIRST ever Tunnel ride.
I started at the Tunnel Hill TH and rode south all the way to the Wetlands Center. Then came back past Tunnel Hill to Stonefort and then back to my car @ Tunnel Hill. Packed up my bike drove to Stonefort, had an AWESOME Pulled Pork BBQ there at a local BBQ restaurant and then set out for Harrisburg and returning back to Stonefort to complete also my VERY FIRST CENTURY RIDE. I didn't make it all the way up to Eldorado. I think I was close to Muddy. I was running out of daylight and stamina,,,
The trail was good and packed and I had no problem with loose gravel at all. My 700x32's rode well @ their max of 80 PSI.
There are mile markers along the entire trail. I only wish there had been signage showing mileage from town to town.
The TUNNEL is awesome. It's amazing how you can see the light at the other end so plainly. But,,, once inside it goes to pitch black and you lose your bearings from side to side. I'd heard this and found it hard to believe. (( It's true,, if you don't have a flash light of some sort, You'll soon wish you did !! ))
Lots of wildlife along the way,, Deer, Turkey, Squirrels and a SNAKE !!
What a beautiful trail system you all have there in Illinios.
Hope to come back some day,,,,

ALSO,,, just a note of observance,, if you plan to ride the entire length and are concerned about the sun. The trail is covered very well with shade from just south of Harrisburg to Karnak. So,, riding the northern part in the early morning would be best and saving the southern part for the evening temps.

Tunnel Hill, 16-17 June 2016

My wife Linda and I rode the trail from the Cache River end at Karnak to Vienna (pronounced "VIGH", as in "high", "enna" the first day and from Vienna to New Burnside the second. While the trail from Vienna to New Burnside is more scenic, the southern section merits riding as well.

If you wish to start at the south end, unless you're an early riser, start in Karnak, at the parking area on IL 3 (S. Franklin St.) just north of town center, off IL 169 (Washington St.) You'll find a pit toilet there and what would seem to be more parking than that end of the trail will ever need. While there's ample parking at the Cache River Nature Center, 2.5 miles to the west, the Center locks its gate at 4:30 pm. Still, I recommend the detour to the center. The Center features an extensive display about the area's history and the efforts to restore the area following its despoliation by agricultural and logging interests. If you ask, the ranger will tell you about some of the local forests, including a couple of "Illinois champion trees" in nearby bogs. At this time of year, you can also see a few pollinator gardens that the staff planted along the main path. It's easy enough to bike back to the center from Karnak (2.5 miles).

A lot of the south end is shaded woods, with the usual downstate IL mix of steep-sided, creek-bottom ravines-- including a few that are surprisingly deep-- and poison ivy. Overall, there's a slight but noticeable climb from Karnak (340') to Vienna (404').

The Vienna trailhead, a town park, is reasonably large for a rural IL town. The station, where you'd think the bathrooms would be, was closed both times we were there. Look for bathrooms instead on the opposite (west) side of the park from the trail, on a slight rise above a picnic pavilion.

The TrailLink description talks about a "gentle rise" from Vienna to the Tunnel. The "real" climb, however, starts about 4 miles south of the tunnel and is reasonably persistent: you can get up a good head of speed going back south downhill. The tunnel area, I think, is more noteworthy for the glen-like vegetation in the cuts on both sides of the tunnel rather than the tunnel itself. Also, while there is a pronounced climb to the tunnel, the last two miles of the way from Tunnel Hill into New Burnside, to us, seemed even more pronounced. Just sayin'. -- Phil Pfeiffer

Tranquil Scenery

June 16th, 2016, heat index of 107. The trail is well maintained with packed crushed limestone. We rode roundtrip from Tunnel Hill trailhead at mile marker 214.5 riding south 9.4 miles to Vienna. The scenery was beautiful with a very remote setting. A majority of the ride (80-90%) was canopy covered which was very appreciated because of the heat. There are numerous trestle bridges with tree top views 100+ feet into the valleys. The Sanburn stop at mm
216 is an honor system stop that had a variety of refreshments available. Lunch at the Vienna diner was delicious and the overall ride was delightful.

Tunnel Hill State Trail

My ride started June 10 2016 at 6:38am from Vienna heading north to Eldorado. The trail is well kept, no real rough spots, saw deer almost immediately, saw very interesting spider webs worth stopping to photograph. The tunnel was great, although I didn't use a light I could see where you might want to. Went through Harrisburg, enjoyed the paved path and rode onto Eldorado, the trail wasn't as well kept but was not bad, as you near town the trail ends and you ride on road for awhile then back to paved trail, at the end it is gravel, I wasn't sure where the end of the trail was but a guy that I had passed showed me where it was. Turned around and headed back to Vienna. Day 2 of my ride started at 5:48 am and headed to the Barkhausen Wetlands, saw more deer and a turkey. My GPS said 112 miles total round trip. I highly recommend this trail, the hills are not bad and not that long. The scenery is great, the trail is mostly tree covered. My only suggestion would be to mark rest areas, towns, creeks and roads, it's nice to know where I am.

A great ride!

I rode the Tunnel Hill Trail the last weekend of September, 2015. I was a little concerned about how I would do on my road bike and 25mm tires, but the trail was in excellent condition. It had not rained in nearly a month so the trail was bone dry the first day I rode. I started in Harrisburg and was making good time until almost to Tunnel Hill when I got a flat. I quickly replaced the tube and was on my way through the tunnel which was not as long as I'd imagined, although I would recommend a light as you cannot see the walls half-way through. Just after the tunnel, I stopped at Sandburn Junction for a snack (drumstick, yum!) which you pay on the honor system. Not long after leaving the junction, I got my 2nd flat. I managed to patch the tube and was off again. Made it without further incident to Vienna, but noticed my tire had a rip in it. I'd planned on going all the way to the end of the trail at the Cache River Wetlands Center, but due to my troubles I called for my ride to pick me up in Vienna instead. I don't think my tire issues were caused by the trail, but were more due to a worn out tire. I drove to a bike shop in Carbondale and purchased a new tire. The next day, I finished the trail. There had been a light rain overnight which made the trail even better for my skinny tires. Over my two days on the trail I saw about a dozen deer, two turkeys, a rabbit and a zillion squirrels. The scenery was full of trees, creeks, rock cliffs, and bridges to keep things interesting.

I can't speak to using a road bike during different seasons or under other conditions, but I would not hesitate to do the trail again.

Other attractions in the area visited and enjoyed were the Cache River Basin Winery/Wineaux's Restaurant and the Bella Terra Winery. Two other wineries nearby have unfortunately gone out of business. Spent the night in Vienna at Country Schemes B&B and I highly recommend it. Norma makes you feel like family and cooks a great breakfast. Her home is in a gorgeous country setting, decorated beautifully with antiques, the rooms are clean, beds comfortable and the bathroom is stocked with supplies in case you forget anything.


Great ride, scenery.

Lost in the Tunnel

My bike ride started in Harrisburg at a small parking lot next to the trail just off of Highway 45. I had never ridden on a rr line converted to a trail, and was very curious how my tri bike would hold hold up on mostly packed, crushed stone. I had been told by a biking buddy to expect a rough, much slower ride compared to the road. There was some concrete in Harrisburg, but it quickly disappeared. The crushed stone was manageable on thin tires. The ride was a bit rough. My goal was to ride 25 miles and then come back to make it a neat 50. Along the way I passed a few walkers, but soon it was just me and the wildlife. Some large deer walked or ran along the trail ahead of me, and then quickly disappear into the thick woods. Rabbits, numerous box turtles, and one very long snake crossed the route.
The climb to the tunnel is deceptive. It almost looks flat. By the time I reached the tunnel (23.5 m.) my legs were feeling the 2% incline.
Big mistake in the tunnel. I did not have a light, and was wearing my sunglasses when I rode in. About a third of the way in I lost all sense of where the walls were. I could see the light at the end, but still crashed up against the side, taking skin off several knuckles, but protecting my bike. I walked the rest of the way out. Felt pretty stupid, but quite an unusual experience.
Only real complaint, on the way back to Harrisburg I stopped at 3 water fountains to refresh my bottles. None of them worked. Finished the 50 m. in about 3:30. Much faster leaving the tunnel, almost all downhill, but speed overall averaged 13-15 mph. Once I reached concrete, it was like ice, so much faster than the stone. Great scenery, quiet, and a good workout.

A hiking trail for your bike

Tunnel hill has great views, fun bridges and cool tunnels. Most definitely worth the 2 hour drive from St Louis. We took our road bikes and the ride was fine. You won't be going 18 mph more like 12-14 but it's very doable on a road bike.


This trail is so well maintained we road 30 miles on 25 mm tires.

The tunnel was kind of a dissapointment due to what we heard and reviews we read... Don't get me wrong... the tunnel was great BUT, We were expecting more... We ripped through it FAST.

I submitted pictures, refer to the tunnel images with & without light...

We were expecting this to be similar to the KATY TRAIL, but rather than loose gravel, we found it to be a smooth, less friction ride.

We enjoyed this ride... Five Stars...

Ride this trail!

We drove about 300 miles to ride this trail and were not disappointed. We rode the section from Barkhausen Wetlands Center to the tunnel the first day and the section from New Burnside to the tunnel the second day. The trail has a lot to offer and is well-maintained. The section from Vienna to the tunnel seemed to have the most use and was also in the best shape. In that section the crushed rock (screenings) was well-packed and great to ride on. South of Vienna and north of the tunnel the surface was looser and grabbed our 28c tires a few times. There are plenty of bluffs, ravines, and water to keep a photographer busy.

Being a rails trail, it is pretty much flat. But you do have some elevation changes. The high point is the tunnel-- literally and figuratively.

Riding through the tunnel was eerie. Not dangerous, but weird. You can always see the light at the end, but once you get in to the darkness, you can feel yourself moving, but don't seem to be getting any closer to the end. It was odd the first day and even cooler the second day when the high humidity caused a fog inside!

We saw deer, two young raccoons, a toad hopped across in front of us, some turtles sunning on logs in the water below on one of our trestle crossings, horses, heard a cow, goats, and a half dozen turkeys tried to blockade the trail and yelled at us as we went past.

All in all, a great trail!

great ride

nice quiet and slow pace,... nice!

Tunnel Hill completed

Did the north half of the trail in 2012 and just completed S half (Stonefort-Karnak) 10/29/13. It rained but not enough to soften the trail. This is a nicely compacted trail without grass which you see on other trails with similar history. Tunnel was shorter than I expected---light not needed.

Nice ride

Rode the trail on Aug 17 & 18. The packed limestone did not give me any trouble with my 700 x 35 size tires. First time I've rode a trail. The wetlands center is worth the ride and watch the 12 minute video/movie they have there. I thought there would be more riders, but on the 18th (a Sunday) we rode from Harrisburg to the tunnel and halfway back and met less than 15 bikers/runners. I was hoping to find a shop that would have a Tunnel Hill State Trail t-shirt, but no luck. At the wetlands center you can get a tunnel hill patch for $4.

COMPLETE: Harrisburg to Eldorado

This is a good addition to the old and storied State section of the trail. It's much like other rural rail-trails in Illinois. We enjoyed crossing the long new bridge over the Saline River and seeing all the waterfoul there. And Eldorado was a joyful find! Small town America. Great people. Another intersecting city rail-trail there that was absolutely beautiful! The area has a lot of mining and railroad history. We started in Harrisburg, rode to trail's end in Eldorado; then on to the city trail and back to Harrisburg. A great 20-mile ride. (The previous day we rode the great new trail in Metropolis and the one in Equality.)

Great Ride

A great and well maintained trail. Started at Carrier Mills and rode to Karnak and back, about 74 miles. The restrooms and trail heads, for the most part, were clean and perfectly spaced. The greatest trail use appeared to be between Tunnel Hill and Vienna with a variety of trail users. A good turkey sandwich was obtained at the little store in Karnak and a Popsicle was obtained at the store in Stonefort across from the depot. The service was great and I was encouraged to stop by the next time I was in the area by the proprietors

My only complaint about the trail was the street crossing approaching the trail head in New Burnside where I almost crashed due to a deep rut at the transition from the asphalt to the crushed stone. Also, a good light is advised for the tunnel, my "Spock" was worthless.

All in all, a great ride and I will definitely be back.

Nice trail.

We rode this trail late May and split it up into 2 days. The first day we rode from Karnap to the tunnel, back to the Barkhausen Wetlands Center and then back to Karnap. The following day we rode from Harrisburg to the tunnel and back. The trail is tree lined which provided shade and blocked the 20+ mph winds. The trail is also flanked with honeysuckle that was in bloom which made for a very fragrant ride.

The Barkhausen Wetlands Center was closed so we were unable to park and start from there.

More info http://locojoe.com

Great Trail

This a beautiful trail. There are rest stops every 7 or 8 miles with water and there are multiple places to eat along the way. The section from Stonefort south to the wetlands center is probably the prettiest but the portion from Stonefort to Harrisburg is also scenic. I stayed at the Limited Inn in Vienna. The room was clean, comfortable, and reasonably priced. I’ve ridden a lot of rails-to-trails and the only one I enjoyed more than Tunnel Hill was the Mickelson Trail in South Dakota but that is tough competition.

Great ride! The Harrisburg to New Burnside leg of this trail is pretty flat and not that scenic, but the rest of the trail is great. When you hit the tunnel don't be fooled, that's a fairly long tunnel and about 1/3 of the way in you're in the dark! The exit is the only light you have and at that point you get this optical illusion that its moving from side to side. I stopped on the other side and snapped a few pics and had a brief chat with a guy who scraped the side wall and almost wiped out. I'll be bringing a headlamp with me next time I ride this trail. The bridges and wooded area you ride through are an added bonus. I'll be hitting this trail again soon. Next time I'm going to start at the southern end and turn around at Stoneboro. Nothing much to see after that point.

Great Trail!

A friend and I rode this trail in July, 2012. We decided to ride 34 miles from Harrisburg to Vienna. I was really impressed with the trail! There were mile markers all along the way and dedicated rest stops built just for the trail! The trail is mostly wooded and therefore in the hot summer you will ride mostly in the shade. The trail was very well maintained. There were a couple spots that had recently been maintenanced and the rock there was a bit loose, but it was nice to see the trail given a good amount of attention. I don't recommend narrow racing tires because of the loose rock in spots, but mostly the trail is hard packed crushed rock and is very enjoyable to ride on. We rode on hybrid bikes and they were perfect for this trail. There was a 2% grade incline for us because we were going from the North to the South. You can avoid the incline by taking this trail from the South going North which will give you a decent of 2% instead. Still, the incline was not bad at all. There are decent privy toilets along the way, however the water fountains have been vandalized and are not currently working. Bring plenty of water. The General store in Stonefort was a nice place to stop for a sandwich and cold drinks. I'd recommend a light when going through the tunnel. The views on this trail are absolutely beautiful! The best views are from the tunnel to the Southern part of the route. One word of caution...you may wish to bring some sort of animal pepper spray. We sighted a cougar on the trail!!! Fortunately, it wanted nothing to do with us. We must have looked intimidating on bikes. Also watch for rattlesnakes and copperhead snakes. Both are indigenous to this region and they are poisonous. We did not see any on this trip, but we've talked with others who have spotted them. Stay far away if you see them. No need to think you are safe while up on your bike!There are a few places you can rent very nice bikes if you don't wish to hassle with hauling your own bikes. Harrisburg has a shop, "You're So Vane" which has a website. He will also pick up your bikes and/or you for a fee if you wish to just take the trail one way. There's also another small bike place near the tunnel at Tunnel Hill. It's the old post office and depot. They also do pick-up service for a fee. I've been told there are at least one or two other places to rent bikes on this trail. There are many places to camp/lodge and of course the Shawnee wine trail is around the area! We love the Shawnee area and we love this trail!

Great trail in a number of categories

I rode this trail on Thursday and Friday, Sept. 8 & 9th beginning the wetlands center in Cypress. I rode it to Stonefort. It was a gradual easy climb to the tunnel. The tunnel wasn't that impressive when compared to the many significant tunnels on trails around the country. The hard packed surface was almost as good as asphalt. In Stonefort, there was a store and cafe that advertized on a board out front that they had a bologna salad sandwich. I had eaten lunch, but I just had to try one. It was pretty good for bologna.
The next day I rode from Harrisburg back to Stonefort. The trail was in good condition, plenty of mileage, t a variety of scenery, nice small communities, and good camping in the area. I hate that I did not take time to checkout the "ghost town" mentioned in the guidebook.
This was my first trail in Illinois and making it my 33rd state in which I have ridden a trail.

Great Ride!!

My wife and I drove from Georgia to do the trail over Memorial Day week and loved every inch of it! We started in the southern wetlands and enjoyed the relative easy climb to the tunnel and down again further north. Encountering several deer,rabbits,squirrel and even two copperhead snakes made this a memorable trip. We have hybrid bikes and it was a good thing because certain areas would be really challenging for skinny road tires. Still a great ride!
There are good facilities at Karnak,not Belknap. Vienna is the headquarters for the trail and you have ample room for parking and even the old Forman Depot serves as a museum/gift shop for the trail. Good picnic area also.Trail climbs from here to the tunnel and descends all the way to Harrisburg. There are some nice bluffs between the tunnel and New Burnsides worth taking in.
This is one trail to be enjoyed. Going too fast on this trail one would miss all the beauty of the natural world around them. For this sole reason is WHY we wanted to do this and get away from the overly fast-paced rat race of everyday life. Thank you RTC and the Illinois DNR and the folks of Ill. for making this possible. We will be back!! MEW

Trail now complete

This spring the trail was finally completed when Burlington Northern Railway granted permission for a crossing at Foreman. This means that riders will no longer have to detour into the traffic on Belknap Road. The trail has been deluged with 13+ in. of rain in the last week and the trail going south from Vienna is currently (05/03/2011) roped off so I imagine there is considerable water damage. I have ridden the trail since its opening and would suggest novice riders wanting an easy, scenic ride to depart from the trailhead at Tunnel Hill and ride South to Vienna. This stretch of the trail contains the tunnel and the 90 feet high Breeden Trestle as well as numerous smaller trestles and streams. More importantly for the novice rider, the trail has a gentle downward slope into Vienna which makes for an easy ride of about nine and a half miles.

Also, I read in one of the reviews that restrooms and water are available in Belknap. There are no services there but 3 mi. farther Southwest in Karnak you will find water, restrooms as well as a restaurant and store open on Monday thru Saturday. They also have vending machines available 24 hrs. The trail from Karnak to the Henry Barkhausen Nature Center is always open but access to and from the parking lot to Route 37 is closed with a gate when the center is closed.

Tunnel Hill Trail

My girlfriend and I rode the whole trail, both directions, in one day. For those considering this, the crushed stone surface doesn't roll as easily as pavement, so it takes a bit more effort. Also, if starting from the SW end, you'll want to park at Karnak, as the wetlands center parking lot is only open during their business hours.

I've ridden trail surfaces like this on 23mm tires, but, wouldn't recommend it. Being crushed stone, applied via a spreader, results in some variation of depth and compaction. There are plenty of soft areas that could easily cause a novice on narrow tires to crash. I changed her tires to 28mm sizing, to ensure her enjoyment. I took my cyclocross bike on 32mm tires. If one plans to go through the tunnel, they should take some kind of light source, whether it be a flashlight or headlight. The tunnel is very disorienting, even though it is straight.

If one only has time to ride part of the trail, I'd recommend any of the areas SW of New Burnside. Further NE of there: the trail is less secluded and exposed to traffic noise from RT45, the trail isn't maintained quite as well, we encountered an area where someone had been riding their horses on the trail and caused damage, and we had someone in their pickup truck come flying down the trail, just outside Harrisburg.

The scenery is just incredible. There is a large variety of wildlife to view, especially deer and butterflies. Be sure to see Heron Pond, though you'll want to creap up on it so as to not scare them off.

The Tunnel Hill Trail is very peaceful and relaxing. If there's a better cycling trail in IL, I haven't yet seen it.

Great trail, would love to return in the fall

This was our first time on the trail. We rode from Harrisburg to Vienna. The trail was shaded almost all of the way. We had lunch at Dolly's in Vienna. The next time we may start in Carrier Mills and ride to Vienna as the Harrisburg to Vienna was a touch long. It would a beautiful trail in the fall and we plan to go back. Just a caution the tunnel can be a little confusing. The darkness is disorienting even though you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. A flash light would not be a bad idea.

Great Trail

My wife and I were returning from a biking trip on Wisconsin Rail Trails and decided to stop in Vienna to do the Tunnel Hill Trail. I had read about the trail in the RTC magazine. The trail was beautiful and well groomed. Along the twenty miles of the trail we did, there were numerous high trestles over small streams and the stunning tunnel. I can only imagine how wonderful the trail will be during the fall foliage time. This is definitely a trail worth traveling to for a wonderful ride.

Beautiful trail!!

"My wife and I rode this trail on June 24 from Vienna to Tunnel Hill on our recumbents. It is a beautiful, quiet and well maintained trail with very few road crossings. For most of this ride we were in the shade because of the huge trees along the trail. We also rode the next day, starting at Karnak and going north a short distance; there had been a big rain the night before, but the trail surface was very good in spite of that. Road bikes or recumbents will have no problem on this surface."

Hidden Jewel in Illinois

"From farmlands to forest to rocky hills and finally to the Cache River swamp & wetlands. Enjoyed the whole 47 miles last summer. I'd wish they'd extend it further. My friends who didn't bring bikes got to rent from a compnay in Vienna, Illinois, Peddles & Paddles. Very nice people and we paid for the ride up to Harrisburg and rode south on our bikes. I highly recommend this company for folks visiting from out of town. P. Murrell Gresham, Oregon."

What a great trail

I live in Evansville IN and have been over to this trail 4 times. The first time I was just getting back into riding so I did not have the stamina. But it really didn't matter cause the trail is so nice. The next couple of times we rode from Tunnel Hill to Karnak. All I can say it is a beautiful trail worth the time to check out. My next goal is to ride the whole thing.

Awesome scenic bicycle ride

I have ridden on this trail for several years and watched each new section being developed. I have cycled the Vienna to Harrisburg round trip once and shorter distances several times. This trail is good for long endurance rides or short group or family rides. The trail in the fall is spectacular. I have seen several deer along the way too. Don't miss an opportunity to experience this unique park.

Pleasant Surprise!!

"I needed a new place to take my daughter for a training ride where we could get 50 miles in. So, we opted to head up from Tennessee to Southern Illinois and give Tunnel Hill a try.

Wow, what a pleasant surprise!! I have ridden the length of the Katy Trail, and have also ridden in the Smokey Mountains. Tunnel Hill, by far, has the most diverse scenery of any place I have ridden. And to think that it was all compacted into a 45 mile strip. The wildlife was abundant and equally as diverse.

The trail was very well kept although the trail construction near Belknap is not complete. The 3/4 mile detour wasn't bad, but some of the traffic wasn't bicyle friendly. The trail was very well kept and taken care of.

The 'Tunnel,' as my daughter put it, was like watching the movie the ""Shining."" As you approached the entrance to the tunnel the exit kept moving further and further away. Once your into the Tunnel you think your visibility is going to be okay then all of a sudden everything turns dark around you. You will need to stay focused on the light at the other end because you can not see the walls, the ground, etc. My daughter hit the wall..She was going straight then all of a sudden lost her bearing and took a 20 degree turn. Anyway, the tunnel was fun so we went through a few times.

My only regret is that we did not stop and explore around the Cache River Wetland center. I think we may take another trip and see what we missed."

Wow ! This is a destination ride

"I rode with a group of guys this past weekend on a round trip from Vienna to Harrisburg (about 68 miles). Most of us had road bikes with 25-32 mm tires. We all remarked that the folks that constructed this trail and keep it up get an ""A+"". The roadway is packed very smooth and has no chuck holes. There is virtually no debris on the trail. The bridge decking was installed with diagonal boards for a smooth ride and there is no bounce in transition at the ends of the bridges. There are restrooms and drinking fountains in the closely spaced towns along the ride. The trail managers have done a super job.

The views along the trail are great. Much of the ride is through a forest. Highlights were the tunnel and the high trestle bridge just south of the tunnel.

We were disoriented by the pitch darkness in the tunnel and walked its middle third. Although you can clearly see the end of the tunnel, you can't judge your distance from the walls. The rangers told us that riders frequently run into the walls. On the bridge, there are balconies on the side so you can see the view better and it also allows you to look under the bridge to see its old iron superstructure.

This is a great destination ride. In Vienna, stay at the Limited and go to dinner at the pub on the NW side of town called Big Boys for a steak, beer & great service. Big Boys isn't in the Yellow Pages, so you'll have to ask for directions.

Steve Lange"

Illinois Gem

This is the most scenic trail I have found in Illinois. My late February ride treated me to some beautiful icicles along the cliffs.

One improvement that is needed is a paved shoulder on Illinois 146 in Vienna. Illinois 146 is a heavily traveled (7700 vehicles a day) 26 feet wide 2 lane road and is the only access point to the trail in Vienna.

Illinois Gem

This is the most scenic trail I have found in Illinois. My late February ride treated me to some beautiful icicles along the cliffs.

One improvement that is needed is a paved shoulder on Illinois 146 in Vienna. Illinois 146 is a heavily traveled (7700 vehicles a day) 26 feet wide 2 lane road and is the only access point to the trail in Vienna.

This trail is WONDERFUL

"First of all, complete disclosure: I am the co director of the Tunnel Hill 10 mile trail race held in November so I have a vested interest in this trail.
However, one of the reasons I volunteer for that job is the same reason that I am writing this review. The Tunnel Hill trail is the most wonderful running trail I have ever been on and it is very good for biking too.
It is my home training course for both marathons and I have done much biking on it getting ready for long triathlons. I have taken triathlon bikes and road bikes as well as mt bikes. Anything works, but if on a skinny tire bike, stay away from the edges.
The best part of the trail is the 9.3 miles between Vienna and Tunnel Hill. You have about 2 1/2 of up hill as you get into Tunnel hill coming from the south. That is the reason for the train tunnel in the first place. You can then turn around and zoom back to Vienna.
If the trail is wet it really hard packs well and you can really move back to Vienna. It can be ridden in the 20 mph range if you can spin that fast.
DO NOT WEAR SUNGLASSES IN THE TUNNEL. IF you do you will lose your way and find yourself on the ground.
See you there.
Keith Kibler"

Quintessential Southern Illinois

"I rode the lower 2/3 of the trail in May 2005 and found it to be quintessential Southern Illinois. The surface is a course sand that packs very well. Road bikes will have no problems. Take the usual repair stuff though, help can be a long ways away. An outstanding ride. "

"August, 2004 Ride"

My wife and I rode this trail twice (out & back) over a three day period. We have ridden many trails in many states and I must say this is one of the top 5. The mostly rural route was scenic and there were numerous railroad trestles of impressive length and highth.

I recommend this trail!

Great trail

We really enjoyed the trail and scenery but the best part was the family at the Morris Acres B&B. They were fantastic and took us to the end of the trail to start our ride.

Great ride

"The ride was fantastic. It is one of the most scenic rail trails I have been on in the past few years. Despite getting drenched a few times, we thoroughly enjoyed biking the leg of Tunnel Hill from Vienna to New Burnside and back. We hope to do another portion another time. And our hostess at the Country Schemes B&B in Vienna was most delightful. "

Best in Illinois

Tunnel Hill State Trail is by far the best trail I've ridden in Illinois. The trail is second only to the Katy Trail in Missouri.

Summary of trail

"The section between Harrisburg and Tunnel Hill runs alongside State Hwy 45 and is fairly non-descript and noisy from traffic. The most picturesque section of the Tunnel Hill Trail is between Tunnel Hill and Karnak and in the fall is absolutely gorgeous and serene!

The Trail Head is located in Vienna (pronounced veye-anna). It is located a couple of blocks East of State 45 on State 146. Going South to Karnak the trail transverses into wetlands terminating at the Wildlife Center in Karnak. The literature describes this center but unfortunately the state ran out of money and as of Spring 2002 the center was not completed. There is also a short 1 mile section of the trail that is closed and you go off trail onto public roads. At Belknap, there is a small on trail facility with restrooms and water.

My favorite section of the trail is between Vienna and Tunnel Hill. The trail follows a stream for much of the ride and is well removed from any roads making the trip very quiet. Several trestles cross the stream along this route with very picturesque views. At Tunnel Hill, there is a small parking area with restrooms and a water fountain. The tunnel itself is only a few hundred yards South of the parking area.

Wildlife: On various rides I've seen Wild Turkeys (hens), White Tail Deer, Red Tailed Hawks, a Golden Eagle, Fox and a variety of varmints!

Terrain: The lowest points of the trail are in Harrisburg and Karnak, which means that the trail rises to Tunnel Hill, the highest point. There are no hills to speak of; instead the trail is a gradual up grade the entire distance when going towards Tunnel Hill. Riders looking for a no exertion ride should consider going from Tunnel Hill to Karnak.

The trail is composed of crushed limestone, which is in good shape for most of the trail. There are some soft edges in places so you may want to avoid hugging one side or the other. The only exception to this I found going into the Nature Center at Karnak. There is a short section leading right up to the building (maybe 400') that was really soft. It is in a wetland area after all! I've ridden the entire trail with 28mm tires on a road bike with no problems.

Amenities: There are numerous places to eat in Harrisburg and Vienna but that is about it. I haven't been able to find anyone offering shuttle services between the major points so if you want to ride the entire trail, plan on doing it again on the way back."

Newer listing for this trail exists!!!

"I have just added a new listing for this trail that gives more detailed information and website links. The trail has 45 miles of rail-trail open, through beautiful hardwood forest, and is awaiting your visit."


Update your records! I was on the trail 4/01 and it goes all the way to Vienna and will soon be open further south. Vienns has a nice trailhead in a park with a rail museum too.

What the trail is really like!!!

"The Tunnel Hill Trail is a crushed limestone rail trail with beautifully refurbished railroad bridges over deep valleys and several rail tunnels that add to the excitement of riding this well maintianed ~9 mile trail between Tunnel Hill, Illinois and Vienna, IL. This trail will be one of the historic pieces of rail corridor linked into the developing Southern Illinois Regional Bicycle Trail that will ultimately provide an approximately 143 mile rail-trail system around southern IL."

tunnel hill state trail

"As much as I like to see ""Brides with scenic overlooks"" I think you mean bridges...Trail is complete from Harrisburg, IL to Karnac, IL, approx 45 miles of Rails-to-Trails. Definitely worth the drive."

Tunnel Hill bike trail

"Trail extends south to Vienna, IL, surface is crushed gravel. It is very nice for biking and hiking. Lots of brides with scenic overlooks and most grades are gradual climbs. Lots of wildlife to see."

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