Lowell Park Outlook

Golden Hour Bike Ride, Golden Delicious Pizza

I bought a basic bike rack from Walmart a few years ago, and I’ve been itching to pull the contraption out of the cave of my trunk for weeks now and use it again. Fortunately, it was not corroded, stolen or bearing teeth marks from the engine monster when I hauled it out of the depths today.

I felt it. Today had to yield adventure. After all, the second day of fall was celebrated accordingly yesterday with a trip out to A Hundred Acres Orchard and Market for raspberry picking. Never mind that I have 700 gallons of berries to use up now.

Todays’ objective: bike the Lowell Park Trail with my friend Megan.

Lowell Park Bike Trail
Right around sunset is a beautiful time to experience the Lowell Park Bike Trail.

I’ve pedaled a section of it before, so it’s safe to say this paved trail is safe for all skill levels of bicyclists. It’s not a heavily traveled trail, but we saw enough bikers and walkers to feel safe throughout our ride. The trail is flat and follows the path of an old railroad bed. Be forewarned that it briefly skims the fence of the Dixon Correctional Center, but the chances of not seeing an escaped convict are highly in your favor.

The path also runs by the gate of the Hazelwood Estate, which was (and maybe still is) owned by the Walgreen family. “Walgreens” sound familiar? The founder, Charles R. Walgreen, grew up in Dixon.

Gate to the Hazelwood Estate
The entrance to the famous Walgreen family’s Hazelwood Estate.

Farther down, an offshoot from the trail leads to an overlook in Lowell Park. Ready for one last bit of trivia? Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States, was a lifeguard there for several summers.

We pedaled leisurely past all these landmarks and ended up at the overlook while the setting sun illuminated the river valley below in brilliant golden hues. Tree shadows were also extending, so the contrast between the two was incredible. There’s a shelter up there as well with a few picnic tables. Had we come earlier, it would’ve been perfect weather to sit awhile and write.

The park can become mosquito-ridden at the height of summer, so it’s best to visit on the fringe of spring and fall when the little buggers aren’t out yet or have disappeared . Beautiful stone shelters are scattered throughout the premises and make for popular backdrops during photo shoots. Swimming is not allowed. Come in early spring, perhaps around April, and you’ll see the woodland floor carpeted with bluebells. It really does make a good destination during a day trip.

Our bike ride lasted an hour and a half, counting stops, and covered about seven to eight miles.

Lowell Park Outlook
Megan celebrates our trip’s culmination: the magnificent lookout view. In another week the fall colors will be even more brilliant.

Pizza

We followed our stomachs  afterward to Al and Leda’s Pizzeria, a place I heard about from a friend who described it as a combination of two other restaurants I like. It’s a mom and pop type place. The decor doesn’t take itself too seriously, and tables and chairs are exact replicas of the set that sat in our kitchen in the early 90s.

Al and Leda's Pizzeria
The interior of Al and Leda’s Pizzeria is no fuss and no frills.

We ordered a small 12-inch pizza with five toppings, all meat. Pepperoni, sausage, bacon, salami and hamburger made it a meat-lover’s paradise. It might seem excessive, but we were hungry and everything sounded good.

Two other parties were there when we first walked in, and two more couples arrived after the parties left. It looked like a quiet night. The service was on the slow side, but I think the pizza was worth the wait.

It had generous amounts of toppings and wasn’t scalding hot. The roof of my mouth was very thankful for that. Between two very famished girls, only crumbs remained on the pan at the end of the meal.

If you want something fairly inexpensive and aren’t a high maintenance customer, I would recommend a stop here. The food was good and a great way to top off our energy supplies after a long bike ride.

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One thought on “Golden Hour Bike Ride, Golden Delicious Pizza”

  1. Dear Angie,
    After reading this beautiful piece of work, I have discovered that the previous section of the Lowell bike path would be a perfect advertisement for the place. Wonder if the park district would like 😉 If not you can just leave it as is, and allow your readers to just experience the glorious path for themselves.
    Love,
    Megan

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