Best Easy Day Hikes Springfield, Illinois  by Johnny Molloy

Best Easy Day Hikes: Springfield, Illinois Guide Book

by Johnny Molloy (Falcon Guides)
Best Easy Day Hikes Springfield, Illinois  by Johnny Molloy
Best Easy Day Hikes Springfield, Illinois includes descriptions and detailed maps for twenty easy-to-follow trails where hikers can roam prairies, escape into rich woods, travel along rivers, and explore both old and recent history.

© 2012 Johnny Molloy/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Best Easy Day Hikes: Springfield, Illinois" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 20.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 20.

One of Springfield’s oldest parks and a designated Illinois state nature preserve, Carpenter Park presents rich woodland rising from the banks of the Sangamon River. A series of interconnected trails explores the 434-acre grounds. This particular hike traipses through dense woods and passes a wooded wetland pond. It then heads downslope to the Sangamon River and through floodplain forest. The final part of the trek travels along the slopes above the river and culminates in a sandstone outcrop overlook on the river before returning to the trailhead.
Springfield, IL - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.1
This loop makes a circuit near the least visited of the three lakes at Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area. It leaves the parking area to bisect its dam, and then rambles through thick woods to the far shore. Hikers then backtrack to the dam and drop into hilly terrain, crossing a deep valley before looping back to the trailhead. The defined distance of this hike is short, but the Drake Lake Trail makes a four-plus-mile loop around the lake; additional trails are available, including a connector to Prairie Lake and its Lake side Trail. A complete park trail map is available at the park office, which you pass on the way in.
Petersburg, IL - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 1.6
This hike follows an asphalt greenway through one of Cen- tral Illinois’ most historic parks—Fairview Park in the town of Decatur. You will start on its east end and work your way through the grounds, visiting sites and facilities both old and new. Large trees shade your walk through manicured grounds. The trail will leave the main part of the park, and then pass through a narrow tunnel of green to emerge near Stevens Creek. The trail then bridges Stevens Creek and comes to a picnic area and the end of Fairview Park. On your return trip you can explore such things as Dreamland Lake and the location where prospective Union soldiers mustered before the Civil War.
Decatur, IL - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 3
This asphalt path travels by many highlights on its way from Rock Springs Conservation Area to Fairview Park. Leave the Rock Springs visitor center and travel through prairie, passing a pond. You undulate through rolling terrain, and then dip into lush bottomland forest dominated by silver maple. Enjoy the watery views from the bridge over the Sangamon River. You will then continue in extremely wooded lowlands cruising along Stevens Creek. The hike ends at a bridge over Stevens Creek. Your return trip will provide more potential fauna and flora sightings.
Springfield, IL - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 3.4
This hike will take you to two of them. Start down low in the Panther Creek Valley and make a likely wet ford of Panther Creek. The trail enters a steep walled hollow deeply shrouded in hardwoods. It then crosses the stream that makes the hollow before climbing to an open, grassy, upland prairie. Here, you follow a spur trail to an overlook high above Panther Creek. The second part of the hike drops back to bottomland and makes a second climb to another viewpoint. This one has a contemplation bench. Enjoy the views from here before returning to the trailhead. The downside is that you will be sharing the trail with equestrians and some trail sections may be muddy.
Petersburg, IL - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 2.5
This loop trail was specifically designed for foot travel only. You will start at the boat ramp on Gridley Lake, and then span a little bridge. From there you will work around the many arms and fingers of the impoundment. This area is managed for scenic value and wildlife. I have seen deer on this trail, including a fawn. While mimicking the shoreline, the path travels up and down over low hills in a mix of prairie and forest. The scenery and views just keep changing. You will also see anglers boating on the lake and fishermen using a designated platform.
Petersburg, IL - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.9
Enjoy a view of four counties from atop Blue Mound, located within the boundaries of the Griswold Conservation Area. This small preserve, encircled by farmland, presents a chance for nature to thrive and for you to walk through it. First, leave a picnic area then travel through woods and prairie to enter the north side of the conservation area, which is a wildlife sanctuary. You will then hike through a mix of prairie and forest before entering the dark woods of a demonstration windbreak. The trail then curves back toward the high point of Blue Mound, located atop a glacial kame. From here an observation deck allows views in almost all directions, stretching as far as the clarity of the sky allows.
Taylorville, IL - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.6
Situated at water-oriented Sangchris Lake State Park, this forgotten path leaves the state park campground, exploring uplands rising from the South Fork Sangamon River. The jungle-like trail delves deep in the forest, sometimes on the slope above the South Fork. Finally, the trail emerges back in another part of the campground. At this point you can walk the campground roads back to the trailhead, or backtrack on the footpath.
Edinburg, IL - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.4
The Interurban Trail is part of the growing network of interconnected paths in Springfield. This section starts in Chatham, just south of Springfield, and travels a mostly wooded corridor to meet Lake Springfield, where you can enjoy a wonderful watery view from a bridge spanning the impoundment.
Springfield, IL - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 4.6
This trail at Weldon Springs State Park circles a scenic spring-fed lake. Along the way you will enjoy good views of the 29-acre impoundment, as well as stopping by fishing platforms, crossing the lake dam, and visiting sobering Veter- ans Point. The trail visits the park marina and campground. Numerous ups and downs make for a fun hike and watery views are almost constant. While hiking the trail, note that this recreation area has been in operation for almost 150 years.
Clinton, IL - Hiking - Trail Length: 2
This hike encompasses two trails emanating from one trail head. First, the West Lick Creek Trail takes you across Lick Creek through bottomlands and hills past big trees. After returning to the trailhead, you will trek the East Lick Creek Trail beneath rich forest along the shore of Lake Springfield to meet the Interurban Trail. The whole area is under the protected umbrella of the Lick Creek Preserve.
Springfield, IL - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 3.8
This rail trail runs between Taylorville and Pana. This sec- tion starts at Lake Taylorville and travels north. You will follow a level asphalt track up a wooded corridor, spanning a creek on a trestle. The hike continues to the larger bridge over Flat Branch, a tributary of South Fork Sangamon River. Soak in stream views before turning back.
Taylorville, IL - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 3.2
This hike takes place at Rock Springs Conservation Area. You will enjoy Central Illinois human and natural history on this shorter trek. First visit the Trobaugh-Good House, a historic antebellum prairie homestead. Learn a little bit about life in pre–Civil War Illinois. The Lookout Trail next takes you through a prairie. Walk through native grasses on roll- ing hills before returning to full-blown woodland. The final part of the hike leads to a small stream in deep woods before returning to the trailhead. The conservation area has other trails and facilities that will enhance your visit.
Springfield, IL - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.3
This paved path starts at Illinois Department of Transportation headquarters, circles by a pretty lake, and then joins an old railroad grade heading southeast. You will be hiking with IDOT employees at first. The path travels in thick forest, bridging Sugar Creek. The hike keeps on to a tunnel under Hill Top Road. This is a good place to begin backtracking, but the trail continues to Rochester.
Springfield, IL - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 4
This hike explores the natural side of New Salem State Historic Site, a reconstructed historic village where Abraham Lincoln lived six formative years. The hike travels through forest along Rocky Branch before dipping to cross IL 97. You then climb steeply up Cardinal Ridge and meander back down to the shore of the Sangamon River. Travel through bottomland and along hills on a section of old Pritchettville Road. The hike crosses back over IL 97 and climbs to the trailhead, which is located at the entrance to the historic village. Consider visiting the village in conjunction with your hike.
Petersburg, IL - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.3
This hike at Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area travels around alluring Prairie Lake. True to its name, the impoundment is bordered by wood and meadow. The Lakeside Trail leaves the lake dam and circles around a many-fingered embayment, where you will enjoy multiple aquatic perspectives and many hills. Views also extend on the rolling prairie. Reach the head of the embayment, and then turn around at a point near the lake. The entire Lakeside Trail stretches 17 miles around Prairie Lake, if you are feeling really ambitious.
Petersburg, IL - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 3.8
This challenging yet rewarding hike travels the far reaches of Rock Springs Conservation Area. Leave the visitor center and hike over prairie and past a pond. Dip into thick river- side woods and come to the historic Rock Springs Bottling Plant. Next visit the site of a mill on the Sangamon River. Then the River Trail takes you to remote river bottom on the Sangamon, where silver maples grow by the thousands among wet-weather channels and seasonal overflow ponds. Enjoy multiple views of the river, finally turning away to visit the Turtle Ponds. The trail surmounts drier hardwood uplands rife with huge oak trees on its way back to the trailhead. Overall, the trail system at Rock Springs is well marked and maintained, allowing you to focus on the attrac- tive scenery.
Springfield, IL - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.6
This trail at Edward R. Madigan State Park travels bottomland along scenic Salt Creek. Leave the Salt Creek Canoe Launch North, and then travel upstream under a canopy of tall silver maples, ash, and cottonwood. Trailside bluffs allow for stream vantage points. Hike along the waterway to reach a picnic area. Here, you can backtrack or make a loop. Several trail intersections can make the circuit a little more complicated than necessary, but a little mental navigation and the directions provided will get you back to the trailhead.
Lincoln, IL - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.9
Explore a restored Central Illinois prairie as well as a wetland and a pair of historic buildings here at Weldon Springs State Park. The Schoolhouse Trail is a big birding destination, with several bluebird boxes scattered along its length. Much of the hike travels the nexus between prairie and woodland and thus you get to explore both environments. The wetland area offers another chance to enjoy bird life. Finally, explore a pair of historic buildings, including the Union School built in 1865 and the Texas Township Community Building, which was moved here two decades ago.
Clinton, IL - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.5
This popular urban trail traces an old railroad grade through the southwest side of Springfield. The trek starts in a commercial part of the city, and then passes through a residential area. The level grade makes for pleasant walking. You will enjoy this trail with joggers and bicyclers getting their daily exercise.
Springfield, IL - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 4.2
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