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Featured National Recreation Trail

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Sam Vadalabene Trail, Illinois

This 21.5-mile scenic rail-trail offers visitors a variety of recreational experiences along the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers.

From IL Department of Transportation. IL Department of Natural Recources, and the City of Grafton, IL

Map of IllinoisThe Sam Vadalabene Great River Road Bike Trail offers an up-close experience of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. It travels at the edge of the Mississippi tucked against the river bluffs, and then along the bank of the Illinois. It climbs and winds through the oak-hickory bluffs of the Illinois within Pere Marquette State Park. The trail brings the visitor to river communities including the venerable, historic city of Alton, the remarkably preserved village of Elsah, and the revitalized river town of Grafton. The Vadalabene Trail is within the Great river road corridor and the Meeting of the Great rivers National Scenic Byway. It is also a designated segment of the Mississippi River Trail.

Photo of trail, road and river

The Vadalabene Trail is exceptionally scenic. The vertical river bluffs frame broad views of the river. The trail provides the bicyclist or hiker with a riverfront travelling experience. Part of the route is on marked shoulders of the Great River Road and part is on a separate railtrail pathway directly adjacent. Both provide memorable river perspectives.

A contrasting experience is at the trail's other end where the route takes the trail up into the wooded river bluffs, with the challenge and accomplishment of steeper grades. Between the two is the Grafton section of trail, which takes the visitor to shops, restaurants, and alongside the Illinois River.

Located at the northern edge of the St. Louis metropolitan area, the The Vadalabene Trail connects with the Confluence Trail to the Madison County system of trails. This system in turn connects the The Vadalabene via the Clark Bridge to Missouri's Katy Trail.

Photo of trail, road and river

Named for Illinois state senator Sam A. Vadalabene, the trail is one of the oldest in the St. Louis area, with 15 miles completed between 1976 and 1979.

The trail's orignial 15.5-mile southeastern section is managed by the Illinois Department of Transportation. The Illinois Department of Natural Recources extended the trail to Pere Marquette State Park in the late 1980s and manages this five-mile section. The City of Grafton developed and manages a two-mile section within Grafton.

For more information:

Illinois Department of Natural Recources
One Natural Resources Way, Springfield IL 62702
(217) 782-3715
Also see the DNR website

The National Recreation Trails Program
American Trails, P.O. Box 491797, Redding, CA 96049-1797 (530) 547-2060 Fax: (530) 547-2035 nrt@americantrails.org www.AmericanTrails.org

Enter the annual Photo Contest for National Recreation Trails

Photo of smiling bicyclist
Great Allegheny Passage (photo by Mary Shaw)

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Updated July 6, 2012

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