Need to Know
To access the trail, take Spillway Road and park at the gravel lot by the gate, just before the road curves right and ends in a parking lot. Ride past the gate and up the short hill to the lake. When the road curves right at the top of the hill, continue straight, through the gap in the concrete dividers to stay on the shoreline. Follow this trail for approximately three miles until you reach the logging road. Turn around here or continue right to the peninsula. The Buttermilk Hill Trail across the road continues straight and is open to biking. However, Buttermilk is currently in need of serious rehabilitation. There is currently some work under way to open the four miles from the end of this trail to the Buttermilk trailhead.
This is without a doubt one of the best bike trails in Southern Illinois and one of the most accessible from Carbondale. The trail leaves from the dam parking area and travels west along the southern shore of Lake Kinkaid. Although there is not much overall elevation change, you are consistently climbing and descending, never traveling too far from the lake.
The exposure from the lake allows it to dry out relatively quickly and provides a nice breeze during warmer months. The foliage is also much less dense than some of the nearby trails. This is a multi-use trail and is technically open to horseback, though I have never seen one on this trail. Fortunately, it is quite difficult for horses to access, which has protected it from the abuse so many trails in the region have suffered.
The trail is mostly bench cut with plenty of challenging rocky sections, a rock-bottom creek crossing (usually dry), and a few technical trail features. There is one short mandatory hike-a-bike section early on. The first few miles are the most technical with fast, flowy terrain predominantly on the second half. The entire trail is marked by short and fast descents followed by short, punchy climbs.
Turning right on the logging road at the end of the trail will take you to a scenic peninsula with picnic tables and boat docks. During summer months, this is a good opportunity to jump in and cool off. As an out-and-back, this clocks in around seven or eight miles, but feels like a lot further.
Shared By: Jordan Wood