CHARLESTON, Ill. (WCIA) — A $379,880 project completed on Tuesday as Fox Ridge State Park near Charleston officially opened a new hike and bike trail.

Staff from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, park users, and locals gathered to open the Embarras River Trail. The new trail is a nearly a mile long and runs through the Embarras River Land and Water Reserve. It connects parking lot No. 6 on East County Road 380 North to the park.

“This wonderful new hiking and biking trail among the natural beauty of Fox Ridge State Park is sure to be a draw for area families and visitors,” said Natalie Phelps Finnie, Director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. “IDNR is thrilled to provide this outdoor opportunity and looks forward to continued efforts to build a physical connection between the park and the Charleston community.”

The project was funded through the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration’s Recreational Trail Program, which provides an 80% federal match to state funding. As part of the project, an existing trailhead in the hunter parking lot and 0.8 miles of the 380 North Road were resurfaced. Tunnels were also replaced to avert drainage issues, and interpretive signage and traffic control measures were installed within the Embarras River Nature Preserve.

“We are thrilled to see the progress at Fox Ridge State Park. Fox Ridge is an incredible asset to the City of Charleston, and their success is our success,” Charleston Mayor Brandon Combs said.

“I appreciate projects that will help in the economic development of our region, and this promotes tourism for our area,” said State Representative Adam Niemerg, whose district includes Fox Ridge State Park. “With Eastern Illinois University and the Charleston community nearby, I can foresee an expanding opportunity to promote outdoor activities with this trail for hiking and biking and connecting to Fox Ridge State Park.”

Fox Ridge State Park is a 2,064-acre park just south of Charleston in Coles County. It features miles of rugged scenic hiking trails, and visitors can enjoy several outdoor activities such as hiking, bicycling, camping, canoeing, horseback riding, fishing, hunting, picnicking, and more.