Bicycling from Urbana IL to Turkey Run IN

I’ve wanted to bike to Turkey Run State Park since I moved to Urbana 7 years ago, and this week I finally did. It’s about 72 miles, or 73 if you make a few wrong turns, as I did.

UPDATE: by popular demand, here is the route on RideWithGPS.

Previously I have biked to Indiana via the Northern Route, past Kickapoo; I found parts of the way terrifying, as I wrote here. For Turkey Run, I wanted a more direct and hopefully safer route. Local bike club riders warned me about gravel in Vermillion County, but had no further advice, so I relied on Google Maps. Between that and my own experience, I can say the route below, corrected for mistakes I made coming and going, minimizes gravel to a mere 4 miles!

On my way home, I was chased by a very determined dog on 900 North Road near Catlin-Indianaola road in Vermillion County IL. That’s right where most of the gravel was, so it was particularly exciting trying to maintain speed and balance with a barking howling hulking (Rottweiler? Pitbull/Doberman mix?) on my tail for 3 miles west.

I stopped at Angie’s Country Kitchen in Cayuga, IN, both ways. It’s roadside diner food, made as competently as such fare can be. I recommend the chocolate malt and fries, and the breakfast I had on my return trip was also solid.

Most of the “major” roads I traveled (Indiana 41, Indiana 234/Mill Road) were lightly trafficked and non-scary. Illinois route 150 was a bit scary, but there’s only 1 mile of it (you can bypass this if you’re willing to endure an extra mile of gravel on 900 N/850 N Road, as I did on my way out). The scariest traffic was on Indiana route 47, the very last leg leading to the park. For some reason people drove like crazy a**holes on it. But it’s only a few miles, and then you’re there!

Crossing the Indiana State Line…
Followed by this nice photogenic “Welcome To Indiana” sign about a mile later. Look at that big scary truck!
That truck picture was just for drama. Most of the time the road looked like this. Really route 234 was very civil, unlike route 136 up north.
Angie’s Country Kitchen in Cayuga. Solid.
Frazzled by the insane drivers on IN Route 47, and dessicated and sweaty from the mid-day sun, I parked at the trash can-adjacent bike rack at the Turkey Run Inn. Connie Bikeson, my separable steel Tour Easy recumbent, was the only bike I saw there the whole time.
The next day I hiked the fabled Trail 3 twice: once in the morning, and again in the late afternoon.
The bouncy Suspension Bridge.
Rare mosses.
Tenacious ferns.
Turkey Run State Park is gorgeous and amazing.
Special Man Friendâ„¢ got in the way of my nature photos, so I had to pixellate his face. No online surveillance for Special Man Friendâ„¢!
Facial recognition software can’t do much with the back of Special Man Friendâ„¢‘s head. I just wanted a photo of these cool stepped rocks of the stream bed/trail.
There were about 20 Amish in this group, and all of them together were quieter than the “English” cell-phone-totin’ mother-daughter pair we passed earlier, who decided to have a loud phone chat in the middle of the woods. Also the usual sounds of families-with-shrieking-children echoed through the canyons. On our return trip in the afternoon, WE were the noisy ones.
Steep ladders on Trail 3.
Returning to the park with more friends in the late afternoon.
Here’s my pal Lois on the ladder.
Early evening bridge reflection.
Special Man Friendâ„¢ protects his identity so I don’t have to apply a pixel-blur filter here like I did on the other photos. Thanks, Special Man Friendâ„¢!
Early the next morning, I headed home while my friends slept at the Inn. In Tangier, Indiana, this very polite and quiet dog walked unthreateningly up to me while I snarfed down an energy bar next to the Tangier Friends Church. The Indiana dogs I encountered along my route were remarkably polite, unlike Illinois country dogs, who are mostly savage maniacs.
There was no big “Welcome to Illinois” sign after this. Even Indiana is outshining Illinois these days.
Georgetown, IL, which I accidentally passed through after missing my planned turnoff. I had to go one mile on busy route 150, but I bypassed the mile+ of gravel I suffered on my way out.
This train was moving when I approached, but stopped completely at the crossing southeast of Sidney IL. Thrilling video footage here.

So there you have it – Turkey Run by bicycle, from Urbana. I recommend it!


Author: Nina Paley

Animator. Director. Artist. Scapegoat.

6 thoughts on “Bicycling from Urbana IL to Turkey Run IN”

  1. Thanks for posting the travelogue. Also enjoyed your pics and comments from the trip to Indy. Is that the same Tour Easy?

  2. Hi Hal! Connie is my “new” Tour Easy — same size (medium) and color (black) as Butch, her predecessor, but with 4 S&S couplers, so I can dissemble and stuff her in a hatchback if necessary. Butch now belongs to Charlie Smythe.

  3. I recognize the scenery. There used to be a Humdinger ice-cream etc place next to the church in Georgetown.

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