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Trail Guides
Independence Park, Marquette Heights, IL  (Read 10055 times)
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Marquette Heights, IL (Near Peoria, about 3 hrs. SE of Chicago)

Trail Map

Trail Review
The parking lot here is just a row of parallel parking at the exit to a subdivision, reached from a turnaround. When you get out of your vehicle, head back to the turnaround and look left. You'll see an old, chained-off road leading up a hill, which is where about 12 miles of swoopy, twisty, whoop-dee-do singletrack heaven awaits you.

Ride up and look for a dirt trail on your left. You can take this and follow it by going left at any fork/intersection. Eventually, this plan leads you to the residential area bordering the northeast end of the park. You'll have to backtrack a bit into the woods and take another left to keep on the twisty singletrack. If you get into a small BMX area, turn around again and look for another fork to keep going. This is the hardest part of the trail to follow as there is no signage to help you. You should still be able to take a left at intersections, but now you should skip any that lead to the residential area or a wood chip path, until you get to the old road you started on.

For a shorter ride, you can follow the old paved road from your vehicle to where it thins to singletrack and forks at a number of spots. Or, following the original suggested route, bail into the residential area at one of the many exits and take a right at the road to return to your vehicle. You'll miss out on some really sweet rollercoasters if you do though. Take a map and explore - you won't be disappointed.

The diverse topography here guarantees a surprisingly exhilarating ride, with all the things that make a Peoria-area trail worth the trip: dozens of whoop-dee-do's and gobs of quick climbs, fast drops, twisty turns, log ride-overs and more. Some sections will make you want to go back and do them again, like the steep decent onto a narrow wooden bridge where you'll need plenty of speed to get up the other side.

Take I-55 to Bloomington, then I-74 to Peoria. Before town, take the I-474 West split about nine miles to Rt. 29 South, heading towards Pekin (If you're in Peoria, you can get on Rt. 29 there). Turn left at the first light, Lasalle Boulevard, which leads into a residential area. You should see a sign there welcoming you to Marquette Heights. Take the first turnaround and parallel park in the gravel on your right.

This park is a short hop from Dirksen Park, another great riding location with even more challenging trails. Cut through the residential area and spend a happy afternoon riding both! Use the map to get between the two.

We strongly recommend attending one of the several fundraiser races PAMBA sponsors every year. They throw a good party, on top of the XC and downhill races. Even if you don't want to race, you can still ride the trails for fun with others who know their way around. Farmdale can feel like a confusing maze of intersecting trails, so getting lost is a very real possibility without a map. Make sure you print one out before going.

Lil Ades Bike Shop in Peoria is a good place to learn more about the local trails. Also look up PAMBA at their website to learn about the other great trails around Peoria, and what you can do to support the local mountain biking scene.

You can fill an extended weekend wall-to-wall with riding down here! Camping is available at Jubilee College State Park, on the northwest side of town, which has its own worthy trails. Then there's Farmdale on the east side, Black Partridge to the north, and Bloomington's Comlara Park on your way home. A highy recommended trip!

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