As you look around Central Illinois, you see a lot of agriculture and flat landscape. However, in hidden corners in all areas of the county, you’ll find an abundance of trails just waiting for you, whether you’re walking, running or biking.
The Village of Mahomet has done a tremendous job in recent years of creating a trail that surrounds the community, essentially connecting the community across the interstate. A 10-ft. wide pathway connects Barber Park to the Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve so walkers, runners and bicyclers can safely bypass Rt. 150. It also provides access to the Mahomet Library and the business district. This is a great path for anyone wanting to do several miles in a safe environment.
Likewise, the Champaign Park District has a wide variety of community trails, but one of the most unique is in Douglass Park where you’re encouraged to be active along the trail with exercise equipment for plyometrics, balance steps and strength training. Bonus, kids get to enjoy the splash pad and large playground found in the park!
One of my favorite trails to run is in Meadowbrook Park. This gem boasts natural prairie amongst its 130 acres with three miles of paved trails. There are beautiful wildflowers this time of year in addition to a variety of gardens planted. What makes this park so special is the Wandell Sculpture Garden with 22 installations along the route.
We are also fortunate to have five forest preserves in Champaign County that combined account for nearly 4000 acres. Each forest preserve offers something unique to explore with different flora and landmarks. This weekend, I’d suggest the Homer Lake Forest Preserve that provides some fairly simple hiking trails, but also the opportunity for fishing and kayaking. Of course, while you’re in Homer on Saturday, you must stop by the Homer Soda Festival!
And we can’t leave out Allerton Park & Retreat Center and their 14 miles of trails in 1500 acres. Like Meadowbrook Park, you’ll be rewarded with European inspired sculptures throughout the park and if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to spot some wildlife. This would be a great spot to grab a lunch from the Brown Bag in Monticello and make it a day trip!