Visitors Guide to the
Sam Vadalabene Bike Trail
Madison and Jersey Counties, Illinois


 
The Sam Vadalabene Trail along the banks of the Mississippi River near Elsah

   
The Vadalabene Trail is approximately 20 miles of level paved trail that parallels the Great River Road and the center portion of the Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway. The trail is named after Sam M. Vadalabene, an Illinois State Senator and proponent of the trail. Riders, walkers, and joggers will see prairie wildflowers along the trail as well as flowering trees during the spring. Brilliant reds, yellows and oranges compliment the scenery in the fall. For those willing to brave the elements in the winter months should be able to see Bald Eagles soaring over the river and bluffs, or floating down the river on chunks of ice.

Attractions along the trail
(Mileage markers are approximate, the first number indicates the mileage if you start at the Piasa Bird just north of the Alton Visitors Center and the second number indicates the mileage if you start at Pere Marquette State Park's Visitor Center.)
  Accessible Parking Accessible Restrooms
Piasa Bird
(Mile 0 / Mile 20)
  Located 1 mile north of Alton's Visitors Center at Piasa Park, this 48-by-22 foot reproduction of a Native American petroglyph is situated on a 100-by-75 foot section of the Mississippi bluffs.
Clifton Terrace Park
(Mile 3.5 / Mile 16.5)
  Accessible Parking Accessible Picnic Facilities Toilet Facilities
This is small roadside park sits along the trail with an informational kiosk of the history of the Clifton Terrace area. A small patch of prairie that features native grasses and wildflowers during the warmer months shows why Illinois was once called the Prairie State.
Piasa Creek
Access Area
(Mile 5.5 / Mile 14.5)
  Accessible Parking Accessible Picnic Facilities Accessible Food Service Toilet Facilities
Located on the border of Madison and Jersey counties, this facility is part of the Mississippi River State Fish and Wildlife Area and provides access to the Mississippi River.
   
Limestone Bluffs
(Mile 8 / Mile 12)
  The stretch between the Piasa Creek Access Area and Grafton is characterized by towering limestone bluffs that are ablaze with color during the fall.
  Accessible Parking Picnic Facilities Illinois Historic Site Toilet Facilities
Elsah
(Mile 10 / Mile 10)
  A visit to Elsah is like stepping back into the 19th century. The entire town was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. 
     
New Piasa Chautauqua
(Mile 11.5 / Mile 8.5)
 
  Private community founded in the late 19th century. 
    Accessible Parking Accessible Picnic Facilities Accessible Restrooms
Grafton Visitors Center
(Mile 13 / Mile 7)
 
  Grafton stretches out for approximately two miles along the Illinois River and is situated at the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. The town boasts a number of restaurants, and shops featuring antiques and crafts. In the winter, look for Bald Eagles roosting on the islands that are easily seen as the Vadalabene Trail parallels the Illinois River. 
    Accessible Parking Accessible Picnic Facilities Accessible Food Service Accessible Restrooms
Grafton
(Mile 14 / Mile 6)
 
  Grafton stretches out for approximately two miles along the Illinois River and is situated at the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. The town boasts a number of restaurants, and shops featuring antiques and crafts. In the winter, look for Bald Eagles roosting on the islands that are easily seen as the Vadalabene Trail parallels the Illinois River. 
    Accessible Parking Accessible Illinois Historic Site 
Marquette Monument
(Mile 15.5 / Mile 4.5)
 
  This monument commemorates Jacques Marquette being the first European to land in Illinois. The cross is cut from a solid piece of dolomite and is situated on a ledge of a bluff that overlooks the Illinois River. 
    Accessible Parking Accessible Picnic Facilities
Bald Eagle Viewing
Brussels Free Ferry
(Mile 17 / Mile 3)
 
  This state operated free ferry crosses the Illinois River.  A detour by crossing the river and riding along County Road 1 will lead to portions of the Mississippi River State Fish and Wildlife Area, the Visitors Center of the Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge and the towns of Golden Eagle, Brussels, and Batchtown. The ferry area is one of the most popular spots for viewing Bald Eagles in the winter months. 
  Accessible Parking
Bald Eagle Viewing
Two Rivers
National Wildlife Refuge

(Mile 18 / Mile 2)
  The Refuge occupies most of the land following the Great River Road on the riverside between Pere Marquette State Park and Grafton. A level, wide dirt road leads through this area for the more intrepid.
  Accessible Parking Accessible Picnic Facilities Accessible Illinois Historic Site Accessible Food Service Accessible Restrooms
Bald Eagle Viewing
Pere Marquette State Park
(Mile 20 / Mile 0)
Pere Marquette State Park is the largest state park in Illinois and is famous for the beauty of its fall colors as well as a home for bald eagles in the winter. The Park features a number of activities throughout the year.
FEATURED ATTRACTIONS ALONG THE GREAT RIVER ROAD
Pere Marquette
State Park
Jacoby Arts Center
Alton, Illinois
McCully
Heritage Project
Cahokia Mounds
State Historic Site
     



 
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Ste. Genevieve &
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Gateway to the West
St. Louis & St. Louis County
        
 
   Meeting the Missouri
Historic St. Charles County
The Lincoln Hills Region
Northeast Missouri
   
 
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The Mississippi River
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