General Dacey National Recreation Trail, Shelbyville, Illinois

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages the six-mile multi-purpose trail that connects Lake Shelbyville and Forrest Park with the City of Shelbyville, IL.

National Recreation Trail

Designated in 2013

• View more details for this trail
in the NRT Database

• Learn about the NRT Program.

The General Dacey Trail is a multi-purpose trail system linking the city of Shelbyville, Shelbyville’s Forest Park, and Lake Shelbyville, which is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project. Designed for walkers, runners, and bicyclists the trail has developed and expanded over the past 10 years and is now a premiere attraction for physical fitness, family gatherings, educational opportunities, wildlife habitat, and one of the leading tourist attractions in the area.

The trail, centered around Lake Shelbyville benefits thousands of citizens and visitors, all while serving as a hub for community events and activities. The trail committee has creatively forged partners and planned multiple fundraisers for charitable organizations, schools, support groups, cross country sporting events, and health awareness events. Volunteers have also created an amazing winter hike which has drawn visitors to the area and Lake Shelbyville at a time not typically popular as a recreational season.

The trail journeys along one of the most scenic and highly visited areas of the lake and has developed into one of the area’s best and most used attractions. The trail has significantly integrated a connection between the community of Shelbyville, Shelbyville’s Forest Park, and Federal lands; including Dam West, Dam East, and Spillway Recreation Areas, as well as the Lake Shelbyville Visitor Center. The connection between these areas has intermeshed users of the trail and exposes them to different areas of the community.

The placement of personal fitness equipment stations within the Dam West Overlook area has resulted into an additional awareness of Lake Shelbyville for trail users. This equipment is suited for all ages and brings a very diverse group of users to the area.

Playground and picnic area

Playground and picnic area

An interpretive trail hike has become one of the most requested programs from school groups visiting Lake Shelbyville. These interpretive hikes provide all participants a hands-on interactive experience to learn about invasive species, wildlife enhancement practices, erosion control, and allows them an opportunity to enter into an environment which they may otherwise not have had the opportunity to experience.

The trail was designed with greenways to promote the natural wildlife sustainability. The trail also serves as a corridor for Lake Shelbyville Park Rangers to conduct tours of the dam. Allowing for accessibility, safety, and an educational platform, the trail has been incorporated into all tours of the dam, providing a well rounded educational experience as well as a physical experience.

The trail has also benefited agencies such as the Boy Scouts of America to provide a quality location for scouting activities and programs. The scouts have taken on projects, such as clearing paths, trail maintenance, public event assistance, and individual merit projects.

The committee has supported individual scouts with projects, including Eagle Scout achievements. The trail provides locals with a single location for a diverse species of tree identification and education. Currently, the original phase of the trail has a variety of trees identified and marked with unique plaques, providing local students and visiting public with information about local trees. In November of 2012, an additional 18 interpretive signs were added to the northern loops of the trail.

Undoubtedly the success of the General Dacey Trail would not have been accomplished without the assistance from the surrounding community and volunteers. The pride and ownership the community has developed toward this trail has strengthened relationships, developed friendships, and encouraged and promoted other community involvement and activities.

Since ground was first broken on Phase I of the trail, volunteers have dedicated thousands of hours of hard work and dedication to the expansion and care of the trail system. Additionally, community organizations have partnered and joined forces to enhance and develop the trail.

Trails are open in winter for walking, skiing, and snowshoeing

Trails are open in winter for walking, skiing, and snowshoeing

The trail has drawn in several partners engaging all aspects of the community. The committee has partnered with the local high school and junior high cross-country teams, serving as host to all home meets. As previously mentioned, the Boy Scouts of America have also partnered and benefited from the multiple benefits that the General Dacey Trail has to offer.

Over the years the General Dacey Trail has forged over two dozen partners, which not only benefited the trail system, but also resulted in many new partnerships formed between different organizations for other community events and projects, thus making the General Dacey Trail one of the largest catalyst for developing community relationships between volunteers, contributors, and partnering organizations. Serving a very diverse group of individuals has been and remains one of the chief goals of the trail, including fully accessible trail sections, resulting in a family friendly environment accessible by strollers and wheelchairs. All ages are welcomed on the General Dacey Trail.

Location and trailhead

Main Trailhead is located at the north end of Forrest Park in Shelbyville, located on East North 9th St. Additonal trailheads located around Lake Shelbyville at the Dam West Recreation Area Boat Ramp Parking lot, Lake Shelbyville Visitor's Center in the Dam East Recreation Area, and the Spillway East Recreation Area below the Lake Shelbyville Dam. Fitness equipment is located at the Lake Shelbyville Dam West Overlook.

For more information

Gereral Dacey Trail Committee

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