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River Trail Professional Review and Guide
"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."
--Johnny Molloy, Best Easy Day Hikes: Springfield, Illinois (Falcon Guides).
This is a rather unique trail. The trail starts by traveling through some prarie grasses. Walking through these in the fall is a little like walking through corn fields. The grasses are more than 6 feet tall, and you walk right through them. It makes for a very different feeling then walking through the woods.
After a short distance, the trail leads into the wooded areas. The trail itself is wide and quite easy to travel. There is not a great deal of elevation change during the majority of the hike, and it is easy to move along at a moderate pace.
As you get to the banks of the Sangamon River, the terrain changes a bit. The trail here does have some elevation changes, taking you atop the banks of the river, then dropping down to the water level. This is the only stretch of the trail that I would consider moderate in difficulty.
After a mile or less, the trail flattens out as it veers back away from the river. A nice path through the woods leads you back to the visitor center.
I haven't experienced many trails of this length that had this level of variation in the landscape. This is a really nice hike.
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