The Galena River Trail is built upon an old railroad spur of the Burlington Railroad main line, constructed in 1886. The spur linked Galena to Galena Junction, where the main railroad linestill activefollows the Mississippi River. Trains on the spur stopped running around 1960. You can still see some of the old signal foundations along the trail between the railroad bridge underpass and where the trail joins South Park Avenue.
The trail corridor is mostly wooded, providing cool shade on hot summer days. In winter, the trail makes for a peaceful cross-country skiing or snowshoeing venture.
Some of the trail highlights include wetlands, limestone bluffs and the original stone foundation of an old house. Wildflowers and wildlife abound. For more details about the location of these and other highlights, visit the Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation
The trail ends abruptly at the main line tracks near the Mississippi River; across the way is a national wildlife refuge that preserves the wetland and slough habitat. There are plans to continue the trail another 2+ miles south, following the river and tracks to Aiken. The trail includes picnic tables along the way, interpretive signs, an information kiosk and porta potty at the trailhead under US 20/Spring Street.
From US 20 (Spring/Decatur streets in Galena) turn north on Park Avenue; after a short distance, take the first left into the parking area. The trailhead is just under the US 20 bridge. There may be a fee to park, depending on the time of day. The city does issue permits for free parking here; call City Hall at 815-777-1050. You can also park at Galena Recreational Park on Field Street.