This route is brought to you by Anne Schroll, one of our 2022 Route Ambassadors and gravel enthusiast from Springfield, Illinois.
Photo Credits: Anne Schroll
Ashland, IL is a very small farming community and an easy drive from the Springfield, IL metro area.
My experience with riding in this area has been very positive. Most of the traffic on this route is farming-related. (You may encounter a loose farm dog here and there, but I’ve not had any trouble with aggressive dogs in this area.)
Bunker Hill Road (mile 15) is a beautiful dirt road that cuts through a forested area and then skirts farm fields.
I rode this in the Fall, which was a lovely time of year for this route- the yellow leaves on the trees seemed to glow in the sunlight!
The route dips in and out of the Indian Creek valley, with some fun downhills and one big climb that is a Strava segment called Crazy Horse Hill. (You may see a lot of deer in this area too, so keep your eyes open!)
Crazy Horse Campground (mile 22) was a nice find and a great place to stop for a bathroom break. You can refill your water bottle there and they sell snacks and drinks along with hot food items such as pizza, nachos, burgers. In the summer, they serve breakfast.
Wind definitely can be a factor in the wide open areas, so be mentally prepared and check the weather the day of.
Freshly laid, thick gravel can be exhausting and tricky to ride through. This is typically laid in the late summer prior to harvest.
Do this ride if you’re looking for a beginner/intermediate ride not far from Springfield, Illinois with a variety of road surfaces and just enough elevation to keep things interesting.
The route crisscrosses the Litterberry-Prentice blacktop. This road is a great bailout option if you need to cut your ride short.
At mile 11, you will turn right onto Johnson Road and there’s a fast downhill to a creek valley. Be aware that the old bridge over this creek is closed to vehicular traffic, but foot/cyclists can cross safely.
My Panaracer Gravel King SK, size 38, set up for tubeless handled the mixed terrain well if you are looking for a tire recommendation.
Stop at the Ashland Diner when your ride is done for a hearty lunch. Their fried chicken is worth the drive!
I parked at James Park in Ashland and it has plenty of free public parking available. There are no restroom facilities there, but there’s a Casey’s convenience store next door where you can use the bathroom and stock up on last minute supplies if you need them.
Like so many others, I rode a bike as a kid but abandoned the hobby for years, picking it up again in my 40s. Rediscovering and developing a love for cycling started when my husband bought me a used Cannondale road bike, which served me well for a very long time. In 2016, I discovered gravel riding and the rest is history. My passion is navigating and exploring the backroads of central Illinois with fellow cyclists. My husband, Steve, and I participate in numerous organized gravel events each year. I also enjoy mountain biking, doing it poorly but with great enthusiasm, and can still be seen occasionally on a road bike.
I retired in 2020 after 30 years as a graphics technician at an engineering company and keep busy volunteering as Marketing Coordinator for the Springfield Bicycle Club, a 300+member club based in Springfield, Illinois.
My favorite place to ride is Pike County in western Illinois. It is a beautiful and largely unpopulated area bordered by the Illinois River on the east and the Mississippi River to the west. The hilly, forested area is famous for world-class whitetail deer hunting, and many of the roads are navigable only by 4-wheel drive (or gravel bike!). A perfect day of gravel riding in this area would consist of parking at the courthouse square in Pittsfield and heading out into the countryside on the numerous gravel roads that crisscross the land.