Illinois River Road Report: Peoria and East Peoria

By WEEK Producer

July 1, 2014 Updated Jul 3, 2014 at 2:20 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- We continue to make our way to hidden gems across Central Illinois in our "Illinois River Road Special Report."

This week, News 25's Beau Ebenezer makes his final stop close to home.

This week's trip is right in our own backyard. Peoria and East Peoria have several worthy attractions right along the Illinois River Road.

We start at Forest Park Nature Center in Peoria Heights. This designated state nature preserve is home to 100 woodland bird species.

Birding beginners can get a close-look anytime with a guided bird-hike. And for others, the seven miles of hiking trails make it the number one spot for outdoor exercise.

"Robin Trail is the hardest one. It's like going up a mountain. The cardio is amazing. Sometimes you can't breathe," laughed Juddy Orr, a Peoria walker.

Peoria is also home to one of the best scenic views of the Illinois River Valley.

Grandview Drive is widely known as the World's Most Beautiful Drive. It was coined by Teddy Roosevelt in 1910. But today, people say leaving the car behind is even better.

It's a premier destination for joggers and bikers every year.

"It's great because it's different running through a neighborhood than running through here,” said Elizabeth Duckworth of Dunlap. “Here, it is timeless. It takes you back."

"We are just enjoying the Illinois River,” said Linda Cooper, another Peoria walker. “We are getting some exercise also. It's just great to take advantage of such a beautiful drive. I'm glad they share it with us."

And just right across the Illinois River, East Peoria has some notable sites you don’t want to miss.

The Riverfront Greenway includes more than a mile of trails along the east bank of the Illinois River. Its raised boardwalk overlooks many wetland areas, which were created by the damming of resident beavers.

And last but not least, running from East Peoria to Morton, is a biker's paradise. The Carl "Bud" Schmitt River Trail of Illinois takes you through some tall-grass prairie and forest habitats.

"It's nice and sheltered from the vehicles and traffic and everything. You don't have to worry about that too much," said Ed Black, an East Peoria Biker.

These were just some of the spots you can go, when you're traveling the Illinois River Road.

Visit illinoisriverroad.org for more information.

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