It is that time of year when pumpkin spice is back, mornings are chilly, and the woods are about to be filled with reds, yellows, and oranges. We are so lucky to be in an area that has endless opportunities to go for long drives, hikes, and bike rides while being in awe of what Mother Nature can do. Our team has picked some amazing places to go for those scenic drives and photo-op destinations for fall colors. Be sure to download our app so that you can easily find all the destinations listed and find even more spots to see!
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For those who love to hit the biking trails, there is a beautiful park in Swansea that connects with the St. Clair MetroBikeLink Trail. Inside Centennial Park is the Richland Creek Bike Trail that runs just under two miles long starting at Old Collinsville Road up to the MetroBikeLink Trail. While riding through the park, you will enjoy the colorful tree canopy overhead for most of the ride as well as seeing wildlife from deer to owls. This spot is a local favorite for bike riding, walking dogs, running, and just enjoying nature. No matter if you start or end your ride at the park, be sure to sit lakeside to spot the turtles and to take in the fresh air.
If you are more of a four-wheeled fan, take a drive down Bluff Road and follow the curves and bends of the Mississippi River. Begin your journey in Columbia with a coffee in hand from Café on the Abbey and head south. Bluff Road follows the base of a ridgeline parallel to the river. The ridge is filled with trees that look like they have been painted with burnt oranges and yellow in the fall. After a 45-minute drive, you will arrive in historic Prairie du Rocher. There, we recommend brushing up on some history and stopping for a photo-op at Fort de Chartres. This 1750s French Fort is believed to be home to the oldest building in Illinois. Finishing your drive on Bluff Road, you will find the home of Popeye – Chester, where you can pick up your own memorabilia at the Spinach CAN Collectibles.
We also have amazing camping opportunities if you prefer to spend a weekend this fall being immersed in all the colors. Over in Sumner, you will find the Red Hills State Park which comes equipped with over 100 Class A campsites. Red Hills has great hiking trails that will take you around Red Hills Lake or you may take your kayak or canoe out onto the lake as well.
Finally, our last highlighted spot for enjoying the fall colors is a hike on the Lincoln Trail.
Located near Marshall, the Lincoln Trail State Park includes a 2-mile-long trail through woods filled with oak and hickory trees. The trail is named after the route Abraham Lincoln and his family took from Indiana to Illinois in 1831. What was once occupied by three tribes (Miami, Kickapoo, and Mascouten) is now over 1,000 acres of public recreational land including a 10-horsepower fishing lake.
Whether bike rides, a day-long cruise, or camping is your ideal way to see the autumn colors, Downstate Illinois has you covered. We suggest not only visiting or driving to all these destinations, but finding your own trip by using our app! Also, be sure to tag us on Instagram @Downstate Illinois on any of your autumn posts!