Sitting on the edge of the prairie as it does, people usually don’t associate the word “mountain” with Vermilion County.

The creation of another special mountain bike trail at Kickapoo State Park, however, could mean the word will come into more common use than in the past.

Thanks to Kickapoo Mountain Bike Club members, another riding trail recently opened at the park west of Danville. Kickapoo now boasts 25 miles of trails to attract mountain bike enthusiasts. The club’s ultimate goal is to create 40 miles of trails.

To those of us who don’t participate in the rather strenuous practice of riding mountain bikes, the recent trail addition might not mean much. But to the growing number of riders across the Midwest, the opportunity to explore so many miles of special, rugged trails in one place serves as a special attraction.

Kickapoo already serves as host to a number of bike and running events thanks to the trails. Mountain Bike Club officials estimate as many as 3,000 visitors a month visit the park to ride.

That’s a lot of visitors headed toward Vermilion County on a regular basis. With the additional miles of trails, many of those visitors could decide to stay overnight in the area. That means additional revenue for local hotels and motels, restaurants and other businesses.

The Danville Area Visitor and Convention Bureau already does a great job promoting local attractions. It reports an increasing number of visitors to the county year after year. The new trails should help add to those numbers.

The trails, along with other attractions associated with Kickapoo and the Vermilion County Conservation District’s Kennekuk County Park and Forest Glen Preserve, also can serve as a spark for further development of businesses geared toward meeting the needs of visitors.

The parks also provide local residents with a number of special events throughout the year. For example, Kennekuk plans a Fall Color Exploration Hike for 10 a.m. Oct. 17 on Lookout Point Trail. The cost will be $5 per person, and pre-registration is required at www.eventbrite.com/e122081859127. Also, there will be a Pioneer and Native American Hike on Forest Glen’s Willow Creek Trail at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 25. The hike will include information about animals and plants used by early settlers and Native Americans in the area. Cost will be $5 per person, and pre-registration is required at www.eventbrite.com/e122082962427.

Vermilion County residents are fortunate to be able to enjoy such a wealth of natural beauty and recreation. The ongoing development of attractions such as Kickapoo’s mountain bike trails will continue to boost the local economy and make the county a destination for visitors for years to come.

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