Summer is here, and it’s time to free your bicycles from storage and get on the trails. With scenic routes and historical hot spots along the trails, bike riding in Ottawa, IL, is a great way to spend an afternoon.
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The most popular trail running through Ottawa is the Illinois and Michigan Canal State Trail (I&M Canal). The 61.5-mile trail is routed through multiple Illinois state parks, quaint towns just like Ottawa and enchanting countryside, giving riders a glimpse of the beauty and charm the Prairie State has to offer. The trail path runs parallel to the canal waters and is mostly flat, making it an ideal route for casual bikers who wish to take in the gorgeous sights.
Ottawa is the best starting point for a ride along the I&M Canal. The city is a central location on the trail because it is home to the only I&M Canal toll house still in existence, as well as the Fox River Aqueduct, which is the largest of the four aqueducts along the I&M Canal and an engineering wonder of its time. While biking along the trail, you will find many historical markers describing the aqueduct, toll house and other elements of the I&M Canal’s past.
Passing through the heart of Ottawa, the I&M Canal also takes riders by numerous restaurants and shops. If you need a break from the trail, you can grab a famous homemade cup of soup or sandwich from The Cheese Shop ‘n’ Deli, a juicy burger from Red Dog Grill or pasta from Alberto’s Ristorante. With easy access to many of Ottawa’s best offerings, you can spend a whole day exploring the city on your bike.
If you wish to travel outside of Ottawa, you can also ride the I&M Canal trail to nearby Matthiessen, Starved Rock and Buffalo Rock state parks. The three parks offer some of the best Illinois scenery and are worth the trip. Hop on the I&M Canal trail in Ottawa at the Fox River Aqueduct access point and then make your way to the parks. Matthiessen, Starved Rock and Buffalo Rock also have their own biking trails to explore, so don’t be afraid to diverge from the I&M Canal trail for a while.
With scenic views, historical locations, and access to delicious eating options and surrounding parks, bike riding in Ottawa, IL, offers an experience you can’t find anywhere else. Put those wheels to good use this summer and explore Ottawa on its beautiful bike trails.