This route is brought to you by Anne Schroll one of our 2022 Route Ambassadors and gravel biking enthusiast from Springfield, Illinois.
Photo Credits: Anne Schroll
This is a beautiful gravel loop in Pike County of western Illinois. It starts in the town of Barry and winds through the hills and valleys to the small town of Kinderhook. Barry boasts that they are a progressive community that offers a great place to live, work, and play!
Pike County 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 vehicles.
The stretch along McCraney Creek Road is especially scenic. This area is sparsely populated and there is very little vehicular traffic.
Most of the gravel roads were in good shape when I rode the route. They were hard packed and fast.
There are just enough hills to make for a good challenge without being overly technical. Have fun on the "roller coaster" sections that are a thrill to ride but require some caution on the downhills!
Be careful of large trucks on IL 106. It’s best to get completely off the road and ride in the sandy shoulder area.
We encountered a few loose dogs who just seemed to want to run with the bikes (thank goodness!).
Do this ride if you are looking for an intermediate-level ride with non-technical yet significant elevation over the 36 miles.
While most of the gravel roads were in good shape when I rode the route, depending on the time of year, the gravel can be loose and thick (especially in the low-lying areas). This will typically coincide with the spring planting and fall harvest seasons.
I recommend parking at the Fast Stop in Barry to start the ride. There’s plenty of parking areas as well as access to bathrooms, snacks and drinks, etc.
Besides at the start, there are no other public restrooms on the route.
There are a couple of vending machines in the town of Kinderhook if you didn't bring enough snacks..
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.