Today I decided to start mapping some of my favorite routes to ride in Southern Illinois. Here’s the GPX track of today’s ride. This trip starts in the tiny town of Rockwood, which is on Route 3 a bit south of Chester, and follows the Mississippi River southward, ending at Pine Hills of LaRue.
Rockwood is a blip on the map, but it has a neat old church and a small public park. I was here on Sunday morning and there were no church-goers, so I suppose it’s not in service.
The park has a two hole outhouse, with no partition between the holes. With a town this size, if somebody is in there with you it’s probably family anyway.
The veteran’s monument in the park calls out the war of 1812:
On to the ride… It starts on a dirt road that goes into the flood plane. The road is not passable for most vehicles, and even jeeps will have a hard time if it’s muddy. Signs of civilization are quickly lost, except for the agriculture.
Pretty soon, the “road” takes you to the river, where a few derelict barges are parked.
Soil was a wierd mix of sticky clay and sand, which plugged up the knobbies on my tire. Mud on mud isn’t too good for traction, so I fell and had to lift my bike back upright. Since I ride alone most of the time, the possibility of having to lift the bike is why I exercise and why I won’t ride a bike I can’t lift on my own. Here’s how bad the tire was plugged up:
After getting out of the bottoms, I rode on top of the levee almost to Grand Tower. There are a few neat things to see there, including a hill with a nice overlook to see the river. The Levee road goes on for quite a while.
After passing through Grand tower, more levee roads take you to the magnificent bluffs that are the Pine Hills of LaRue. There is a road that goes along the base called Snake Road. It’s closed twice a year for the snake migration between the bluffs and the swamp. Another road goes along the top of the bluffs and has many scenic overlooks.
This one’s actually an older photo. Part of the ridge road was closed. The rain was coming and I didn’t want to take a 20 mile detour to get back here. That’s the Big Muddy river on the right and the snake swamp on the left.
Hope you enjoyed the ride!