Welcome to East Central Illinois
District 5 covers a region from Bloomington and Champaign southeast to Paris. Counties covered are Champaign, DeWitt, Douglas, Edgar, McLean, Piatt, and Vermilion as well as portions of adjacent counties. While you are cycling in this region, we invite you to stop and take in many of the scenic and historic wonders of this region.
This region is prime farmland. Long-distance bicyclists will love the very flat terrain of east central Illinois. The terrain becomes more rolling in the southern third of the region, primarily due to the number of larger streams and rivers that cut through it. Only a few challenging hills exis.
Lakes, Rivers, and Stream
This area is dominated by several state parks and recreational areas. These areas are popular boating, fishing, and swimming destinations for people from all of central Illinois. There is plenty of camping, and numerous boat access points.
Although many rivers and streams wind through the area, there are few public access points for fishing or boating. A notable exception is the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River. A section of this river has been designated as a Wild and Scenic River, the only one in Illinois.
Plants and Animals
One of the most heavily farmed regions of the state, bicyclists are most likely to encounter corn and soybeans. Many birds and animals have adapted to farmed areas, while along streams and lakes and in state parks and conservation areas, a number of native species flourish. In August and September, the rows of corn are seven feet high, forming living walls on each side of the road.
Typical wooded areas fall under two broad categories: oak-hickory uplands and elm-ash-soft maple bottomlands. Other species found are beech—more prevalent in the eastern half of the region—and widely scattered groves of sugar maples, as well as walnut, sycamore, willow, cottonwood, horse chestnut, and gum. Pine trees exist almost exclusively in plantations and are not native to the area. A few native stands of tall-grass prairie are still in existence—primarily on protected lands.
A number of animal species feel at home in the corn and soybean fields, most prominent being the red-winged blackbird roosting on fences and reflectorized poles next to the fields. Robins, blue jays, and a number of other birds also are common in farmed areas.
Deer are ubiquitous, as well as the squirrel. In wooded areas raccoons and rabbits are more common. Less common, but still frequently spotted are a variety of non-poisonous snakes such as the garter and the prairie king. Poisonous species are quite rare. Frogs of all types haunt wetlands and lakes and can be heard most summer nights. Occasionally, small lizards may be spotted.