Rich Goes Mountain Biking (sort of)

The Kickapoo Mountain Bike Club has a system of trails at Kickapoo State Park near Danville IL

This is an area that was extensively strip mined for coal for many years

The mountain bike trails run amidst the various piles of spoil and ponds

The trails are rated from easy to highly technical

Being a complete novice I strongly considered the Kids Loop before attempting anything else

The Haul Road (shown in purple) seemed like a good relatively easy introduction

It is a gravel road and in places steep and loose — the road originally was used to haul the coal from the areas being mined

The Diamond Back was the bicycle of choice

The mechanic’s creeper makes it somewhat easier to load into the back of a Ford Edge

At the Trailhead

Considered a “Crossover” back in the day, its part road and part mountain bicycle

Certainly not an Ogre, Disc Trucker, or Salsa, but it was more than capable today

Trailhead parking area with primitive facilities

Rolling out on the Haul Road

The trees were a welcome change from farm fields  (later, that opinion would become modified)

Quiet, cool, and fragrant

Pond in the last place coal was extracted

The ponds are dangerous in the sense that there is no shallow near shore zone — its an immediate drop into often times very deep water

Haul Road ends here

Spoil piles where the more technical trails are located

Cyclist known to frighten small children and puppies

Return to Trailhead to decide what is next

Trail 1B appeared to be an easy one

1A and 1B this way

1A being longer and a little more rigorous, I stayed with 1B

Both are one way single track

Wishing to get some views of ponds, I began to appreciate Greg’s disdain for view blockers

Typical scene along 1B

Loaded up the Diamond Back and headed into Kickapoo Park

The Kickapoo were peaceful indigenous people who were ultimately “relocated” to Oklahoma

Kickapoo Park Road

Geese whose goslings had just moved downslope out of view

There is a connecting road to the Vermilion County Fairgrounds, it is blocked to vehicles but a bicycle could get thru to access the Kickapoo Rail Trail from the park — eventually the rail trail will enter

Tree work blocked my attempt to get through, so took the long way around by county roads and US highway

Barn along the Park Road

Present start/terminus of the Rail Trail

At this time, this section continues west for 3 miles to Oakwood, IL

It will eventually run 25 miles to Urbana, IL


Beginning of the trail looking west

The featured attraction of the rail trail is the trestle over the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River

View North from trestle

View South

Interstate 74 bridge in the background

This part of the Middle Fork has been declared a State and National Scenic River

The Upshot:

It was an absolutely beautiful day, cool temps, calm wind, low humidity

It was a good experience and I really enjoyed it.  The easier trails made it even more so.

Having seen videos of the more technical trails, the is just no way that would be possible.  I lack the proper bicycle, and mostly the stamina to do that kind of riding

Very much considering returning to do the 1A trail; the others range from difficult to impossible for me

As far as the KRT is concerned, that is a definite.  Starting either in Oakwood or Kickapoo, its only 6 miles out and back right now

The western part of the KRT is now complete from Urbana to Ogden, IL so that is a possibility as well

Great day/Great Ride  🙂


Uhhh  — I didn’t go quite that fast  😉

Very much enjoy all the entries you all have provided -- great to see the everyday cycling venues. Being in eastern Illinois, scenery certainly isn't our forte, but oh well, the roads are normally quiet. Look forward to more and more entries from all of you, I do have a few over on BL -- in Bill's Day Rides, and one journal.

8 response to "Rich Goes Mountain Biking (sort of)"

  1. By: Bill Stone Posted: May 17, 2022

    Very nice! Rich is now officially a mountain biking maniac! Soon his garage will host an entire squadron of full-suspension MTBs.

    Looks like that is only about an hour from Bloomington-Normal. Next time the Ogre and I are in Blue Mound Township, we’ll meet you at the park. Hoping it will be another day of moderate temperatures, low humidity, and no wind, although I realize that only happens about once every ten years. 😉

    • By: Rich-Illinois Posted: May 17, 2022

      That would be great!!
      Most of the MTB trails are beyond my scope and capabilities I’m sorry to say.
      Some nice cycling in the park as well, including some cross-training climbs (for me)
      Yes, it was an ideal day, and yes, they are few and far between as I’m sure you remember.

      CEO would rather eat at Arby’s than drive I-74 — no joke — some strange crashes that should never have happened happen on 74.

  2. By: NancyG Posted: May 17, 2022

    I love that old barn!
    I am definitely not a mountain bike/unpaved trail person, but I might be able to conquer the trails you found for your day ;’-). Easy for me to say since I will not be joining you and Bill on any adventures.

    Great post Rich, I learned about the coal dig now lake being so deep and no gradual shoreline. Makes perfect sense but I just did not think about it. Also that wooden trestle bridge looks fantastic! What a treat to ride around some place a little different..

    • By: Rich-Illinois Posted: May 17, 2022

      Yes it was quite a different cycling experience.
      My first impression having done it was, I dunno if I want to do that again or not — given time and more thought, it really was pretty cool. So yeah, I’ll be back.
      Most of the trails are out of my league, but 2 or 3 seem doable.
      The trestle itself was a million dollar project — total for the entire trail is in the 12 million range.
      Never thought it would be completed in my lifetime, but looks like it may happen.

      CEO has a monthly Dr appointment in Danville that lasts around 2 hours, so a perfect opportunity to get back to trails.

  3. By: Suzanne Posted: May 17, 2022

    Wow, sounds like a lot of nice variety and pretty scenery! And a picture of you!👋

    • By: Rich-Illinois Posted: May 18, 2022

      Thanks! I’m looking forward to your tour in France on Cycle Blaze. It will be a great time!
      As to the photo of me — few exist — and you just saw the reason why, 😉

  4. By: Lednar De Nalloh Posted: May 25, 2022

    I think I’ve just seen a pic of Rich, seems intelligent and handsome too. Kickapoo has to be the greatest name ever I reckon and I thought Australia had all the good ones.

    • By: Rich-Illinois Posted: May 28, 2022

      Thanks! But . . . .
      Operative word: “seems” 😉
      In ‘Strine I’d more likely be called a dipstick!

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