What to Do This Weekend: Cycle the Bike Trails of Southern Illinois
The scenic Tunnel Hill State Trail, a 45-mile bicycle route, starts in Harrisburg, Illinois.
With warm days for biking on the wane, it’s a good time for cyclists to pack in a few miles. This Saturday, September 29, consider heading to southern Illinois, where the Saline County Tourism Board hosts organized scenic bike rides. Riders may pick among 15-, 30-, and 60-mile treks between Harrisburg—where registration begins at 7 a.m. at the north end of Parker Plaza—and nearby Vienna. Registration, $30, includes support at safety stops every 15 miles. (Helmets are required. Call the tourism board at 618-253-8910 for more information.)
Keep biking through the weekend by taking a trip down Tunnel Hill State Trail, a 45-mile route from downtown Harrisburg to Karnak, Illinois. The trail’s Harrisburg link starts at Small Street and offers parking and restrooms. For more information, visit the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ website. Or an hour west of Harrisburg, pick up the Illinois leg of the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail, which travels through Chester, Illinois. From Chester, the trail loops south toward Murphysboro, then further west into Missouri. A map is available here or by calling the Murphysboro Chamber of Commerce at 618-684-6421.
While you’re in the area: Saline County is home to the gorgeous Garden of the Gods, a stunning rock formation in Shawnee National Forest. A map of the hike to the attraction is available here. Shawnee also is home to numerous mountain biking trails—if you’re inclined to try some rugged terrain on your two-wheeler.
Where to Stay: A half-hour south of Harrisburg, and neighboring the Shawnee National Forest, the 200-year-old Rose Hotel Bed and Breakfast (92 Main St., Elizabethtown, IL, 618-287-2872, therosehotelbb.com) houses five guest rooms with views of the Ohio River for $115 a night. Down the street, the River Rose Inn (1 Main St., Elizabethtown, IL, 618-287-8811, riveroseinn.com) also offers river views from its five guest rooms—including whirlpool suites—and adjacent cottage. Nightly rates range from $95 to $135.
Where to Dine: According to Bon Appétit, Murphysboro’s 17th Street BBQ (32 N. 17th St., Murphysboro, IL, 618-684-3722, 17thstreetbarbecue.com) has the nation’s best ribs—not to mention its fried okra, crawfish tails, or pork rinds. Also in town, the family-owned Cummare’s (1063 Chestnut St., Murphysboro, IL, 618-687-3700, cummares.com) serves up buffets of hearty Italian fare.