Nestled between limestone bluffs, the Sam Vadalabene Great River Road Bike Trail is a pawrific way to discover the beauty of southwestern Illinois with your furry pal. Spanning over 21 miles, it winds alongside two great rivers, the Mississippi and the Illinois, and travels through the river communities of Grafton, Elsah, and Alton.
The Vadalabene starts at the largest state park in Illinois, the Pere Marquette State Park, which you and Fido can spend some time exploring before you set off on your hike. Visitors flock to this 8,000-acre site for its scenic overlooks, fall colors, and bald eagles. As you and your canine companion follow the trail into the eastern part of downtown Grafton, you will find yourselves flanked by traffic to your left and barges floating on the river to your right.
From Grafton, the trail enters the charming village of Elsah. As you go past beautifully preserved buildings, you will see why the entire village was put on the National Register of Historic Places. The Vadalabene ends in the outskirts of Alton, and this is where you and your pooch will find the Piasa Bird. Situated on a section of the Mississippi Bluffs, this giant painting of the mythical creature is a reproduction of a Native American petroglyph that was discovered nearby.
Furtunately, there are several access points for the Sam Vadalabene Great River Road Bike Trail, so you can choose the length of your adventure. Whichever section you cover, the trail is woofderfully scenic, offering puptastic views of the river. It also passes by multiple points of interest where you and Fido can stop over, including the Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge and the Clifton Terrace Park. Be sure to bring mutt mitts and plenty of water so you and your pup can have a fun time on one of the oldest trails in the Saint Louis area!
Keep your doggo on a leash at all times, as some sections of the trail run next to traffic.