Get a bird’s eye view of the Illinois River Valley
Located off Route 98 and covering approximately 400 acres of beautiful woodland and meadows, Everett McKinley Dirksen Park is a rare treasure. With the majority of the land located within the Land and Water Reserve by the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission, Dirksen Park is home to many of the same animals, birds, and plant life found at McNaughton Park. That makes this another great location to nature watch. In addition, it offers an amazing view overlooking the Illinois River Valley with the highest point in the park at an elevation of 639 feet. It’s simply stunning and well worth the three-mile hike on the Running Deer Trail. Dirksen Park is also home to Pekin’s Archery Range as well as a remote-control airfield and mountain bike trails.
FIND YOUR FUN
Hike the Running Deer Trail
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Trail Map: Download
The Running Deer Trail (marked in yellow) is just over 3 miles in length and takes about 2 hours to complete at a comfortable pace. The main trail begins and ends at the public parking area near the Archery Range. Additional loops (marked in blue) are used primarily by mountain bikers, but they are open to hikers as well. These add-ons double the overall length of the original trail, making it a 4-hour trek instead of two. Because hikers and bikers both use these trails, please stay alert to avoid any collisions on the trails.
Special Note: There is a waterfall nearby the park that many hike to. This is NOT in Dirksen Park and is not part of Pekin Park District. The landowner has asked us to notify the public that hiking to this area is trespassing on PRIVATE PROPERTY.
Aim Some Arrows
Hours: Vary by season
The Park District has partnered with Pekin Archers, Inc. to operate and maintain the Archery Range, and assist with programs. Open to kids age 10 through adult, Pekin Archery Club teaches all aspects of archery including proper safety, terminology, the parts of a bow and arrow and targets. Participants less than 16 years old need to be accompanied by a parent. All archery equipment is provided. Questions? Contact the Recreation Department Office at (309) 347-7275 for more information.
About Pekin Archers, Inc.
Pekin Archers is dedicated to promoting good sportsmanship and perpetuating the sport of archery. The range located in Dirksen Park boasts a 4-star NFAA range and is home to many accomplished archers. Pekin Archers and Pekin Park District have a partnership on the use of this land for a range. Safety is a priority and thus an experienced archer must be on sight when the range is in use. A part of this relationship allows residents of our community to use the range to shoot a bow and arrow into a target. Another part of this partnership includes Archers from the Club teaching group archery lessons to those registered through the Pekin Park District classes in the Spring and Summer sessions.
Becoming a member of the club is easy. Just visit Pekin Bass and Bow on Derby St. in Pekin, or Presley’s Outdoor in Bartonville, IL. Membership fee is just $40 for your family per year. (March – February). You can attend Club workdays at the range for a reduced membership fee. The Club hosts 3D shoots March through September, ASA State Qualifiers and Championships, field and target shoots. Please note: Broadhead bows are not allowed in the park as they cause damage to targets.
If you’d like to visit the range, contact Danny Terrill, Pekin Archers President, (309) 242-9201.
Address: 2501 Edgewater Dr. Pekin, IL
Fly a RC Airplane or Drone
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
The Park District has partnered with the Remote Control Airplane Flying Club or RC Club to operate and maintain the field. If interested in being involved with the club and utilizing its amenities, contact Denny Baker at 309-740-3761 or at email@example.com
Host a Picnic
Several covered shelters also sit around the park. Pack a lunch or look for a park grill and make a hot meal you can enjoy. As always, be sure to clean up whatever mess you make at the grills and tables.
Park Safety and Preservation
To preserve the beauty of Dirksen Park, as well as ensure the safety and enjoyment of all park patrons, camping, hunting, use of alcohol, littering, disturbing wildlife, cutting of flowers, trees or shrubs, dogs off leash, and straying from designated trails is prohibited. The use of motorized vehicles and fires outside designated areas is also not allowed. Thank you for your cooperation.
2510 Edgewater Dr.
Pekin, IL 61554
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Acreage: 459 acres
Parking: Public parking near the Archery Range
Header photo credit: localopal.org