Farmdale Trail System

The Farmdale Trail system includes everything from wide, hardened dirt roadways to twisting single track mountain bike trails. While many people picture Illinois as flat corn and bean fields, the Farmdale System allows users to experience the hills, valleys, creeks and standing timber of a time before agriculture transformed the area.

photo: Farmdale Reservoir

Length: 16.30 miles
Loop Trail? Yes
Type: Equestrian Trail, Mountain Bike Trail, Rail Trail
Agency: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Entry Fee? No
     Closed if any water is standing in the reservoir.

Parking Fee? No

Allowed Uses:

Bicycling (off pavement)
Dogs - Off leash
Equestrian - Riding
Pedestrian - Walking/Hiking/Running
Snow - Snowshoeing
Wildlife Observation

See more details.


Location: Farmdale Reservoir near East Peoria, IL
State(s): Illinois
Counties: Tazewell
Longitude: -89.50158
Latitude: 40.67564

Driving Directions

From East Peoria, IL take IL Route 8 East. Turn right onto Farmdale Road then left onto Bittersweet Road. Make a left at Bittersweet Road, and stay left at the next intersection and follow the road up the hill. The dam overlook will be on the right. Continue down the hill from the dam to the main parking area on the right. Trail system is accessed from the main parking lot.


The entire Farmdale Trail System is on property managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Farmdale Reservoir is part of a project to protect the City of East Peoria, IL from a repeat of the devastating 1927 floods.

The main structure at Farmdale is a large earthen dam eighty feet tall and 1275 feet long. Upstream from the dam, the Farmdale Reservoir Area is approximately 836 acres in size. The Farmdale Reservoir is a dry flood retention reservoir that will hold heavy rains and help prevent damages to East Peoria. During normal weather conditions the entire Farm Creek flows through a large culvert through the dam. However, during heavy rain events water may back up above the dam and create a lake.

The Farmdale Reservoir area ranges from the lower slopes at the west side of the Farm Creek Valley, across the valley, and up the steep, rugged bluffs on the east side to and including the flat fields atop the bluff. Elevations range from approximately 580 feet NGVP at the creek to 705 feet NGVP on the upper fields. Farm Creek, a perennial stream, runs through the project. Three perennial streams enter the creek from the east side.

The forested uplands are predominately oak-hickory type with the lower slopes and terraces exhibiting mostly maple-basswood. The forest has been greatly disturbed with the present cover being entirely second growth. Most open areas at Farmdale were leased agricultural fields until 1994. These areas are now tall grass prairies.

Crossing the entire reservoir area is Cinder Road. This was the route of a railroad before project construction. Although the tracks are gone, several bridge piers are still found along the former rail line. On a trip through this area in 1879, Geologist Frank Leverett noticed a hillside that clearly showed geological strata. He described and pictured it in his monograph, The Illinois Glacial Lobe, in 1899. The Farm Creek Section, now within the boundaries of Farmdale Reservoir, is a National Historic Landmark.

Connecting to Cinder Road, the backbone of the Farmdale Trail System is a network of dirt roads used for firebreaks, project inspection and maintenance. Using the road network users access multiple use trails. Trail sections include the downhill Knock-Knock with a 90’ drop in 0.2 miles, Whistler, Eagle Ridge, Borneo, Mike n Don’s and Trackstand. Deep in the woods, along the edge of the uplands, mountain bikers can find hidden teeter-totters and other skill challenges on Shrolls. One user describes Back Trail as “A fun, technical climb from the fire road to Blue Chevy Trail!” Since Blue Chevy was mentioned-are you one of the trail users than can tell why it was named?

Located Northeast from the Main Parking area is a mountain bike skills area, featuring jumps, sharp curves and downhill areas to improve rider skills.

The Farmdale Reservoir area is the site of trail running, mountain biking, orienteering and other competitions regularly.

The area is open daily, except closed during and for 24 hours after any rainfall. Also closed any time there is standing water behind the dam.

Additional Details

Primary Surface: Soil, Compacted
Secondary Surface: Boardwalk
Grass or Vegetation
Rock, boulders
Rock, smooth
Soil, compacted
Water, moving
Wood, running plank

Average Grade: 2%
Maximum Grade: 15%
Elevation Low Point: 567
Elevation High Point: 709
Elevation Gain (cumulative): Not Available

Year Designated:

Supporting Webpages and Documents

Website: MTB Project Farmdale Loop Information

Contact Information

For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.

Public Contact:
Todd Ernenputsch
Natural Resources Management Specialist
US Army Corps of Engineers
257 Grant Street
Peoria, IL 61603
[email protected]

Trail Management:
Kevin Ewbank
Supervisory Natural Resources Management Specialis
US Army Corps of Engineers
Visitor Center
950 N 27th Road
Ottawa, IL 61350
[email protected]




Not clearly marked. No loop.

There’s no discernible loop for hiking. Signage is inadequate for hikers— although the map at the trailhead was marked with various trails such as multi-use, biking, and horse, this was not continued on any trails. Walked aimlessly for a half hour and then left.

September 5, 2022



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