When we think of Illinois, many of us envision sophisticated skyscrapers along the shores of Lake Michigan in Chicago. But there's a whole other Illinois out there, one filled with exciting things to do, like riding a four-wheeler over a muddy trail. So load up the trailer with your quads this weekend, and take off for a couple days of riding over hill and dale.
Most of the four-wheel trails in Illinois are on private land developed for trail riding. These parks are found throughout the state. Most are open only on weekends, though some may open during the week for group rides. Each park has its own rules that riders must follow. Some require riders to wear helmets, others don't. All require riders to sign liability waivers. Harpole's Heartland Lodge and Resort (heartlandlodge.com) is one of the private parks in Illinois. It has more than 30 miles of trails on 700 acres. ATV rentals are available if you don't own a quad. Another good place to ride is the Williams Hill OHV Park (williamshillpass.com ) near Harrisburg. The park is open weekends year 'round, and advance make arrangements to ride at other times. It has 12 miles of trails. The park schedules events like swamp rides, all-terrain vehicle games and mud bog rides throughout the year.
The State of Illinois does not allow off-road vehicles on land it owns, but that doesn't mean it doesn't support the sport. It does. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has a program whereby other governments, non-profit organizations and individuals can apply for grants to develop parks and trails for off-highway vehicles as long as the facilities are open to the public. The Little Egypt Off-Road area is an example of state land many used to develop a park. The Little Egypt Off-Road Motorcycle Club developed the park, but don't let the word "motorcycle" in the name turn you off. Photos on the club's website show many four-wheelers traveling over trails on 720 acres near Marion.
National forests are usually a good place for off-highway vehicle riding, but there are no trails in the Shawnee National Forest, the only national forest in Illinois. While other federal agencies besides the Forest Service administer lands in Illinois, none allows four-wheelers or other off-highway vehicles to ride on this land. These properties, however, do allow other outdoor activities such as camping and hiking.
Other Public Lands
No Illinois city has off-highway vehicle facilities, and only one county operates an off-highway park. Clark County runs the Mill Creek Park, which is seven miles from Marshall. The 2,600-acre park has 15 miles of trails for quads and other off-highway vehicles. The county charges a fee to use the trails and requires riders to obtain permits first. Vehicles must show Illinois OHV stickers, available at the park and good on any Illinois trail that requires stickers.
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