Rock Springs/Scovill Park West Bike Trail

It looks like a new segment of the Rock Springs bike trail will be constructed soon, linking Rock Springs with Scovill Park West, known as the former Scovill Golf Course. A state grant recently funded repaving the former golf cart paths. It’s a beautiful place to walk or ride a bike, though you may have to walk your bike up a couple of the steepest hills. Some of the turns are a bit sharp, too.

If you’ve read this blog much, you’ll know I’m an avid cyclist, so I’m thrilled to see a trail extension, though I don’t like seeing natural areas disturbed. I think the trade-off is worth it. People tend to care more about nature, if they can get out in it and realize how precious it is, especially in Central Illinois, where few natural areas remain.

Mountain bike trails have been added by volunteers, for a more rugged adventure

Scovill Park West is one of those areas, though it’s obviously been altered by man. It reminds me of the landscape seen on Little House on the Prairie. Tall oaks and other species tower on top of the rolling hills. Ma, Pa, and Laura would be right at home.

Yesterday, I went to see if the path improvements had begun. They haven’t, but I wound up taking a long, unplanned winding walk through the park. I’ve ridden the trails by bike before, but never walked it. I think I enjoy walking it, even more.

There are a few improvements that I would suggest. It sure would be nice to have some signage and trail names. It’s a great place to get some exercise, and it would be helpful to have mile markers and designated routes for different workout goals. Several different routes could be created for walkers and cyclists to enjoy.

Miles of paved trails

There are winding paths that take you to various parts of the park. There are vantage points that allow you to see an almost bird’s eye view of the rolling landscape. It’s easy to get a bit lost, once you’re in the back 40. So, signs would be nice. Benches would also be great, too. I saw only one.

There is a fairly good-sized pond in the center of the park, and it would be nice to have a deck overlooking it. It’s hidden by tall brush, and I’d prefer that remain for wildlife.

I’d also recommend planting some new trees, before losing the ones that are there. Many are mature, and some have already died. This would ensure that mature trees will remain for future generations to enjoy.

A small pond, created by a stream
One of the bridges, near a small waterfall

I also realized, it would be a great place to have a scavenger hunt, or other activities for kids or families. You can get off of the paved trails onto dirt trails, for a more “naturey” adventure.

Restoring some of the park to native wildflowers would be awesome, too. This has been done in sections of the former Nelson Park Golf Course, also located in Decatur, and it’s beautiful in the summer. Such a landscape would be breathtaking at Scovill.

I also recognized that since the paths are paved, it’s an ideal place for handicapped individuals or seniors. There are hills that might be challenging for a mobility scooter, but less hilly routes could be designated. It would be ideal for such individuals, and marketed as such.

The only bench a saw

Whatever is done, I hope that much of the land is protected and conserved. It will soon be linked up with the Rock Springs Conservation Area, and what a jewel for Decatur and Central Illinois!

I’m assuming the bike trail will require some wider paths to accommodate pedestrians and cyclist, and other changes will be necessary. The bridges need new decking and the railings are quite short. There’s probably other changes needed to bring everything up to current codes, but it’s already very walkable as is.

Mountain bike trail

If you haven’t been to the park, I’d recommend going out and experiencing it. I saw two couples there when I was walking. One couple, who looked to be in their 40s, were acting like kids riding up and down the hills. It does bring the kid out in you. What’s better than that?