Near Danville south of Chicago, the 5,000 Kickapoo State Park area has over 15 miles of trails through lush green forest and along the crystalline waters of the Middle fork of the Vermilion River. The park is located near the intersection of US57 and US 74.
The main loop trails are directional! Only ride counter-clockwise as described here. Distance for the loop is 10.3 miles as of 6/7/05. Almost all the technical features such as logs and dirt piles have bypasses for beginners, xc racers, and mountain bikers just wanting a smoother, faster line.
Section 2: Easy - 0.9 mi.
If you park at the main trailhead, this will be the first section you take as you enter the trail system. At the trailhead, ride around the locked gate and go to your right just past the gate. This is the start of Section 2. It starts out as a wide singletrack around a meadow. Then, after a sharp, blind, right turn there is a short steep climb (Surprise Hill). This section then enters the woods and becomes tight and twisty with one small ravine all on a slight downhill grade. It ends at the start of Section 2B. At this point there is also access to Haul Road.
Section 2B: Difficult - 0.7 mi.
Section 2B begins at the end of Section 2 and ends at the beginning of Section 3. It is a wooded singletrack that is difficult due to a big ravine crossing near the middle. The start has a couple small ravines on tight turns and then 5 small jumps along a slight downhill run. Between the jumps and the big ravine, there are a couple log piles, one small and one big. The descent into the big ravine is very steep and can be slippery with a sharp switchback turn on the way down. The climb up the other side is also very steep and can be slippery. Use caution on this descent and switchback. Please do not skid tires on the way down.
Section 3: Easy - 0.6 mi.
This is a short easy section which begins at the end of Section 2B and ends by running into Section 4. It is slightly uphill at the beginning and then slightly downhill toward the end. It is a wide singletrack through a meadow area. Haul Road can be accessed at the beginning or end of Section 3.
Section 4A: Moderate - 1.9 mi.
Section 4A begins at the end of Section 3 and ends at the beginning of section 5. Section 4A has a new drop section, wall ride turns, shallow water crossing, and a long climb. After the long uphill (Heartbreak Hill), it follows the top of the wooded ravines in a nice twisty and slightly uphill all the way to Section 5. There is an optional decent into, and right back out of, the ravine called the I74-benchcut. There are some log piles and log skinnies scattered through this section. At the junction with Section 5, there is a short connector that will let you bypass 5 and go to section 4B or the back parking lot. If you wish to ride section 5, it will route you into 4B naturally.
Section 5: Difficult - 2.3 mi. (playground loop - 0.36 mi.)
Section 5 begins at the end of Section 4A and ends at the beginning of Section 4B near the north parking lot. It contains an interior loop called playground loop near the middle that is considered part of the main loop distance. Section 5 is wooded, tight, twisting, technical singletrack. There are steep ravines to cross, logs to hop, and many tight turns and passages between trees barely wider than your handlebars. There are 1-2 ft jumps, log skinnies, split logs balanced over log piles, and a high speed berm. Because of this, Section 5 is recommended for more advanced riders only. If you are a beginner, go slowly, carefully, and dont be afraid to walk. Know your skill and limits and always ride in control. This section is often sessioned near the forked log skinny and the playground loop.
Section 4B: Difficult - 0.4 mi.
Section 4B begins at the end of Section 5 and ends at the beginning of Devils Gulch. It is a long fast downhill with a drop midway and a table top at the end. Keep your speed under control at all times. Only attempt the table top if you are expert skill level.
Devils Gulch: Difficult - 1.0 mi.
Devil s Gulch begins at the end of Section 4B and ends at the beginning of Section 6. It has a fast off camber downhill turn coming in followed by a tight windy uphill. At the top of the uphill there is a sharp right to a log drop and a short steep table top. It continues on to benchcut ravines, jumps, and log piles to the bottom of the hill where it joins section 6. There is an access to the end of Haul road at this junction if you take a right and head down the steep eroded hill and arc back to the west.
Section 6: Difficult - 0.6 mi.
Section 6 is a short section that begins near the end of Devils Gulch and runs roughly parallel to Haul Road until reaching Stump Pond where it rejoins Haul Road. This section starts out easy enough, but then turns into a tight, twisty singletrack followed by a series of steep climbs and descents with dangerous switchbacks. Section 6 reaches an elevation that is among the highest in the park and the view from on top is awesome. Because of the sharp elevation changes and some nasty erosion ruts, this section is rated difficult.
Section 7: Moderate - 1.9 mi.
Section 7 runs roughly parallel to Haul Road and was built to provide a return route to the trailhead without relying on the use of Haul Road. However, due to some inaccessible ravines along the way, Section 7 is routed onto Haul Road in 3 spots for a short distance. At the end of Section 6, ride up Haul Road for 0.3 mile until you see a sign on the left directing you onto Section 7. Halfway up section 7 it pops out on Haul road again for 50 yards and then climbs a final hill and heads back into the woods. Section 7 ends on Haul Road about 0.3 mile from the trailhead parking lot.
Section 1: Easy - 1.2 mi. (2.5 mi. as a loop)
This is a connector trail designed to connect the main park area and campground to the mountain bike trail system. Section 1 starts on the main road out of the east side of the park near the horse stables. It ends at Haul Road. It is flat, twisty and almost all wide singletrack, partially wooded, partially meadow. Part of Section 1 is shared with horses, so remember to yield and/or stop to prevent spooking horses. Also part of Section 1 is one way, so follow the signs. Section 1 is not part of the main trail system loop and is not regularly maintained by the club.
Haul Road: Easy - 1.8 mi.
This is the dirt/gravel road which runs along side the trail system from front to back. All of the trail sections have access to Haul Road except sections 5 and 4B. This allows you to use it as an emergency exit and a boundary reference on the southwest side. Sometimes there are signs on the trail sections directing you to the Haul Road access points. Although horses are not allowed on the mountain bike trail system, please be aware that Haul Road IS used for horse traffic. If you encounter horses, please stop and get off your bike until they pass. Bikes can spook the horses and injure their riders. Please help us maintain our good relationship with the equestrians.
Overall, Kickapoo State Park is the 2nd most popular mountain bike trail of all 9 mountain biking rides in Illinois.