Photo Credit: Becky Davenport / Missouri TravelingMom

Photo Credit: Becky Davenport / Missouri TravelingMom

Expert cyclist or not, Tunnel Hill Trail in Vienna, Illinois, makes biking fun, relaxing, and safe.

A friend and I recently crossed over the Bill Emerson Bridge, which connects Missouri to Illinois, and headed for VIenna for our first long bike ride of the season. Without the kids along, we were able to really test our strength, endurance, and tolerance for our bike seats. Having a good comfortable bike seat is a must.

Tunnel Hill Trail was once a railway, therefore the trail is very secluded and, for the most part flat. However, for the first 5 miles I felt like I was pushing against a small hill, and while I am not positive I do believe there was a small incline.

Tunnel Hill State Trail actually stretches 45 miles from Harrisburg to Karnak, but there is a 9 mile section between Vienna and the famous tunnel that is perfect for all levels of cyclist.  While we did not make it to the tunnel this trip, I have seen the tunnel before and it is well worth the ride – in fact the entire trail is well worth the ride especially during spring.

I could go into every detail about the ride, I won’t.  Instead I am going to answer the questions that my co-riders badgered me with before our ride.

What is the Tunnel Hill bike trail like?  

Tunnel Hill Trail is covered with a rock type substance call shale rock, the shale packs like asphalt, especially during dry months, during damp times it may feel loose like sand or chat.   The trail is built up off the ground and is well maintained, however, there are no side rails and in spots the sides can be steep.

This is what happens when you bike breaks!   Photo Credit:  Becky Davenport

This is what happens when you bike breaks!
Photo Credit: Becky Davenport / Missouri TravelingMom

Will we have to worry about cars?

Very little, you do have to cross a road in one spot, but other than that the trail runs through woods and farm land, making for a very beautiful ride.

What about other riders?

Yes there will be other riders on the trail, but you always stay to the right, if they want to pass you they will pass on the left.

Do we have to wear a helmet?

No they do not require you to wear a helmet, however, I always make my kids wear a helmet.

Does it cost anything?

No, the trail is free and open from sunrise to sunset.

What if we have to go to the bathroom?

Good question…..I have no answer! There are no bathroom stops along the 9 mile stretch between Vienna and the tunnel.

What do you do if your bike breaks?

Ummm….you have two legs and start pushing. My co-riders learned this the hard way on last trip out.

What about food and water?

Pack your own and remember you could be on the trail for a long time, so be prepared.  I also suggest packing a roll of toilet paper, hand wipes, and hand sanitizer for those just in case moments.

What else is there to do around Tunnel Hill Trail?

Vienna, Illinois, is located in the Shawnee National Forest, which is full of outdoor activities.

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