Glendixon Mountain Biking Trail Guide
Have you enjoyed some Glendixon mountain biking? Have you ever even heard of Glendixon?
It combines words from the local mountain biking community in the Shawnee National Forest area. It’s short for Glendale and Dixon. Glendale comes from the Shawnee National Forest recreation area known as Lake Glendale, and Dixon comes from Illinois DNR’s Dixon Springs State Park.
What do the two natural areas have in common? They’re both home to a connection of almost 20 miles of designated mountain biking trails.
Glendixon mountain biking trails took a long time and a lot of effort to get. There were many opponents of designating mountain biking trails in southern Illinois. But as an obvious tourism and economic boomer, mountain biking was finally let in the Shawnee, and it continues to get more designation today.
Please consider supporting Shawnee Mountain Bike Association to help designate more mountain bike trails in southern Illinois. If it weren’t for SMBA, we wouldn’t have these trails.
This is a trail guide dedicated to mountain biking at Lake Glendale and Dixon Springs State Park.
Directions to Glendixon Mountain Biking Trails
There are two ways to reach these trails – From Lake Glendale or from Dixon Springs State Park.
Lake Glendale Directions
To reach the start of the Lake Glendale mountain bike trails, you need to park and start at the Cardinal Bay boat launch. Directions to the starting point: From Marion | From Chicago | From St. Louis | From Nashville
Dixon Springs State Park Directions
To reach the start of the Dixon Springs State Park mountain bike trails, you need to park and start at the primitive campground. Directions to the starting point: From Marion | From Chicago | From St. Louis | From Nashville
All roads leading to each trail start are paved. During wintry conditions, some of these roads may not be as well treated as others due to their priority and personnel/budget to clear roads of snow and ice.
Please drive carefully and watch for hikers and cyclists at Lake Glendale and Dixon Springs State Park.
There is adequate parking at both sites on paved parking lots.
For your safety and security, lock your vehicle up when you’re away from it, and try not to leave any valuables in plain sight. For the most part, each of these places is relatively safe and patrolled by area personnel and law enforcement. But it’s better to be safe than sorry.
The trail at Lake Glendale starts just beyond the boat launch.
The Dixon Springs State Park trail starts just beyond the gate, going into the primitive campground.
Trail Information for Glendixon Mountain Biking Routes
Since these trails interconnect on both federal and state-managed public lands, both agencies promote the trail system as one.
There are more trails on the Shawnee National Forest side than on Dixon Springs. The trails on Dixon Springs are typically more well-kept and easier to ride on than in the forest. The forest trails are great but tend to be more wild and less maintained.
The mountain bike community (volunteers) are mainly those who maintain these trails.
The trails lack proper blazes and markings. There are some signs indicating some portions of the trails, including Red Dog, Bluff Trail, and others. Some artistic items along the trail resemble chickens and roosters.
To navigate the trail system without getting lost: Please download the app for your phone known as Avenza. It’s free. After that, download the Shawnee Challenge Map, which is also free. The Shawnee Challenge map shows the Glendixon mountain biking trail system and works off GPS. This means it will work even when you don’t have a cell phone signal. You just need to keep your phone charged. This map is an effort in part by Hiking with Shawn, Southernmost Illinois Tourism, Shawnee Mountain Bike Association, Friends of the Shawnee National Forest, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and the US Forest Service. Another great app for navigating Glendixon is Trail Forks.
The Shawnee Challenge has recently had a significant upgrade, now enabling hiking, biking, equestrian, and kayaking as options to complete the challenge. Check out the new Shawnee Challenge on Southernmost Illinois Tourism and enjoy the best parts of the Shawnee Forest Country.
What You’ll See Along the Trails
Dixon Springs trails have amazing bluffs and natural shelters, waterfalls, and very scenic creeks. The hills on Dixon Springs are not as strenuous.
Along the Lake Glendale trails, you can enjoy a nice easy ride around the entirety of the lake. Please share the trail with hikers and camping patrons around the lake.
Glendale has fewer bluffs and creeks and more pine forests, and strenuous rolling hills. You’ll get a workout when mountain biking through the Lake Glendale side of the Glendixon mountain biking trails.
Rules and Safety Information
Please ensure that you follow the basic rules for each area:
- The trails are for day use only, but camping is available at designated campgrounds (fee-based) at both locations
- Try to Avoid using the trail when it is very wet, as it causes erosion and can mess it up for other riders.
- There are no trash services along these trails. Please pack out what you pack in and leave it better than you found it
- Try to stay on the designated trails and remember to Leave No Trace
- These trails are for mountain biking and hiking only. Horseback riding is prohibited.
- All cyclists should yield to hikers at all times
- Pets must be kept on a leash
- Venomous snakes are present along these trails, including copperheads and reports of timber rattlesnakes
- Poison ivy, ticks, and mosquitoes are present in these areas
- All cyclists are encouraged to wear a helmet, ride with a friend, and tell someone where they are going beforehand
- Make sure you bring plenty of water and snacks to keep yourself hydrated and fueled
- Don’t trespass on private property. Look for National Forest boundary signs, no trespassing signs, and purple paint to indicate private property boundaries
- Make sure you check your bike and keep it maintained before mountain biking
- If you need help and it’s an emergency – call 911
Glendixon Mountain Biking for Beginners
New to mountain biking but want to get into it? Below are 6 easy steps to start mountain biking at Glendixon and other mountain bike trails today.
1 – Get the Right Gear
Make sure you find the right mountain bike. Get the right size bike that is made well. Chain retail store bikes typically are not made for technical mountain biking. We recommend The Bike Surgeon in Carterville for getting the mountain bike. While you’re there, get your helmet, basic repair kit, extra tubes, air pump, and water bottles. Cycling apparel will also help you ride comfortably. We recommend WILDCYCLER, which is an American-made cycling apparel for men and women that is a bit on the wild and fun side. It’s some of the most comfortable and fun cycling apparel I’ve ever worn.
2 – Learn the Basics of Mountain Biking
If you can find a beginner course in mountain biking, you should consider taking it. If that isn’t an option, try to find a group ride that welcomes beginners. Typically, on Wednesdays, a group of mountain bikers meet at Touch of Nature by Giant City State Park to ride – they’re very knowledgeable, and some even teach basic mountain biking skills. You can also read books, research articles, and watch YouTube videos to help you learn the basics of mountain biking, such as going uphill, downhill, braking, and using the gear system efficiently.
3 – Start Slow and Gradually Increase
Start mountain biking on an easier portion of the trail system, such as around Dixon Springs State Park or even around the lake at Lake Glendale. You could even ride the road system through each area – but be sure to watch for vehicle traffic. Start slow and gradually increase as you become more comfortable with biking.
4 – Join a Club or Group
As previously mentioned, consider joining a mountain bike club or group. You can learn a lot from the members and find out about more biking opportunities. If you want to get into racing or competitive mountain biking, a club or group is the best route to go. Check out the Saint Nicolas Brewing Company Cycling Club and Touch of Nature Mountain Biking Events.
5 – Try to Ride Often
The more you ride, the better of a rider you will become. Any chance you get to enjoy some Glendixon mountain biking or a ride anywhere else, take advantage of it. The more you ride, the more skills and shortcuts you’ll learn to make mountain biking easier and more fun.
6 – Always Put Safety First
Mountain biking is fun and adventurous, but it can be dangerous. Wrecks can result in broken bones and broken bikes. It’s important to wear protective gear such as a helmet, as most injuries occur to riders not wearing a helmet. Watch where you are riding and stay on the designated trail. Follow typical outdoor safety guidelines when mountain biking around the Shawnee National Forest.
Other Stuff to Do Around the Area
Check out the Chocolate Factory across from Dixon Springs for sweet treats and ice cream.
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Watch the videos for this trail!
Below is a recent video that we filmed while enjoying this area.
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Thanks again for checking out another one of my articles and until next time, I’ll see you on the trail!
Founder, Hiking with Shawn
Howdy folks! My name is Shawn Gossman and I founded Hiking with Shawn. I’m an avid hiker, cyclist and outdoorsman here in the Shawnee National Forest. I was born and raised in Southern Illinois and never want to leave. Click here to learn more about Shawn Gossman