The Mississippi River Trail (MRT) is a 10-state bicycling route in the process of development. It travels over 2000 continuous miles, on each side of the river, between the headwaters at Lake Itasca, Minnesota and the Gulf of Mexico. When complete, the route will consist of trails and bike-friendly roads, with “MRT” signs identifying the way.
In Illinois, the MRT route traverses some of the state’s most diverse landscapes. Steep bluff lands in the “unglaciated” northwest region around Galena provide picturesque scenic beauty amidst small towns and wooded areas. Beyond the industrial communities of Moline and Rock Island , the topography flattens out, and the MRT traverses areas of rich farming country. South of the metropolitan St. Louis area, riders will enter the Delta, where flat river bottom lands provide miles of great cycling.
The MRT in Illinois is a historically-rich corridor as well as a trail offering broad natural diversity. To the north, Galena was the home of General and President Ulysses S. Grant. Nauvoo, settled by the Mormons in 1839, features many buildings from that era including a reconstruction of the impressive Mormon temple, completed in 2002. Quincy was the site of one of the famed “Lincoln-Douglas” debates that captured the nation’s attention just before the Civil War. Farther south, communities such as Cahokia and Kaskaskia speak to the importance of French presence in the landscape. Perhaps most important, the site of the pre-Columbian settlement of Cahokia, east of St. Louis, is a World Heritage Site now managed by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.
ILLINOIS MISSISSIPPI RIVER TRAIL – Pleasant Hill to Alton: The section of the MRT that covers Calhoun County starts in Pleasant Hill (Pike County) and follows the Mississippi River Road along the west side of Calhoun County through the Villages of Mozier (Baytown), Hamburg, and Batchtown. The trail then crosses the county (on Schleeper Rd) to the Illinois River Road, going through the Village of Brussels and the Brussels River Ferry to join the Sam Vadalabene Bikeway through Grafton, Illinois and on to Alton. This section of the MRT is 69 miles long.
For more information about the Illinois MRT and route maps visit the League of Illinois Bicyclists.
For information about the entire MRT (from Minnesot to the Gulf of Mexico) visit the Mississippi River Trail website