Cedar Lake Trail is a 15 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Alto Pass, Illinois that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and mountain biking and is accessible year-round.
A portion of this trail is a loop around Cedar lake. You also have the option for an out and back to the trailhead on Rowan Road at Makanda. The trail is well blazed with only a couple of junctions missing blazes. A large segment of this trail is part of the River to River trail. The trail is in good shape generally. There are a few washed out sections due to erosion on steeper slopes. There is a mixture of hardwood and some larger groves of short leaf pine. The first portion of the trail is a loop around the lake with an option to go out and back to the Lirley trail head near Makanda.
I hiked a portion of the Cedar Lake trail but really was focused on the portion of that trail comprising a segment of the River To River Trail. The trail was in pretty good shape and well defined. I did not have any real problems following the trail blazes but did rely on GPS to confirm decisions on which direction to head at a couple of junctions missing blazes. A portion of the R2R trail goes through Alto Pass and you head out of town on Chestnut street (road walking). Then the trail jumps off the road just before the water treatment plant. I hiked down to this point from the the Cedar Lake trailhead and then retraced my steps back to the lake. The R2R trail goes up the west side of the lake and then crosses the causeway. However, there is a fork in the trail that lets you hike on the east side of the lake as well (the right fork - heading north - is the Cedar Lake trail). I hiked that portion of the Cedar lake trail until it intersected with the R2R trail heading east to Makanda. This portion of the R2R trail intersects with Oak Grove Road (you road walk to Makanda and then the trail goes through Giant City State Park). There is a trail head at Oak Grove Road. I turned around at the trailhead and hiked back to Cedar lake. I crossed the Cedar Lake causeway back to where I parked the jeep. I tracked the hike and had an elevation change of 1700 feet so I believe the elevation gain of 100 feet shown for this trail underestimates the gain. It was an enjoyable hike.
Couldn't complete this trail on my mountain bike. Too advanced! We started on the West side of the lake off of hwy 127 boat dock road. The trail was marked hiking/horse trail. This was a single track trail and about 250 feet into the trail we had to get off our bikes and crawl under a large downed tree. This trail seemed to be all uphill and had a lot of exposed roots and rocks all over the track. We turned around after 2 miles and headed home. Very disappointed. I'm sure if you are an "extreme" mountain biker....this trail is for you. My review for this trail as a mountain bike trail has to be 2 stars. However, I would definitely hike this trail. It was a beautiful area and would love to see the whole trail.
i finally completed this whole trail and it was probably the best workout of my entire life. Its an awesome trail with some pretty tricky downhill sections and some near impossible uphill sections. you will have to get off and push your bike because many of the hills are just too complicated to enjoy riding but its an out and back trail so you get to enjoy them on the way back. there are some pretty fast sections with small jumps and some of the hills are pretty difficult to ride down due to a bunch of rocks roots holes and washouts and sharp turns you have to choose your path wisely. the rocks are very hard on tires its best to have dual suspension. this trail is relatively well taken care of but very difficult in some areas especially if u try to ride up all the hills. awesome ride tho