The Great River Trail is a breathtaking journey along 60 miles of the Mississippi River. The route is a mixture of paved rail-trail, small-town sidewalks, dedicated bike lanes on the street and a stretch of road shoulder along the Great River Road. The Great River Trail begins in Savanna and travels south through many small river towns with traditions still steeped in the quintessential culture of the Mississippi River. There are many opportunities for browsing antiques, enjoying sumptuous catfish dinners and viewing the boats and barges. If you stop for a spell, the friendly locals will chat to you about the river and how it hasand hasn'tchanged.
Starting in Savanna, in the north, the Great River Trail is a nicely paved, secluded trail. As you continue, you travel through a beautiful section that is sometimes secluded and quiet and other times parallels State Route 84.
Through Cordova, near mile 35, the route follows quiet streets. Be sure to watch for the green bike signs that mark this section. After less than 2 miles, the rail-trail picks up again and closely follows Great River Road for 4 miles into Port Byron, a charming river town visible from the trail's riverbank course. Most of the corridor here is shared with an active rail line, offering a fine example of a safe rail-with-trail relationship.
Three miles downriver is Rapids City. You will see numerous blue herons, gulls and waterfowl in and over the water here. In town adjacent to the trail is a stone monument offering a prayer from Native Americans for both the trail and its users.
After another 3 miles, the trail quickly cuts underneath Interstate 80 then through the town of Hampton and past lovely riverfront homes. A large public park on the south side of town has a great wooden playground and makes a wonderful rest stop. Shortly after leaving the park, the trail climbs to the top of a levee wall, where it stays for quite a while. Just ahead on the left, the John Deere manufacturing plant, with row after row of shining new farm equipment, marks the beginning of the trail's urban section. Traveling atop the levee affords great views of the bridges over the river connecting the Quad Cities.
From Hampton it is only 5.5 miles to the city of Moline. Follow the bike route signs to navigate through the city and return to the trail on the other side. The Quad City Convention and Visitors Bureau, right off the trail, is a pleasant place to stop. This stretch follows a slough of the river, across which you can see historic Rock Island. The Rock Island Arsenal (operated here by the U.S. Army) was a Union army prison camp during the Civil War.
Leaving downtown Moline, the trail stays up on the riverbank and crosses under the Centennial Bridge as you enter the city of Rock Island. Its industrial area dominates the landscape for most of the final 7.5 miles from Moline. This breaks open when you ride into Sunset Park, where a large marina and extensive river views provide a fitting end to this scenic trail.
Parking and Trail Access
To reach the Savanna trailhead from State Route 84 (Great River Road), take US 50 (Chicago Street) west and turn left on Broderick Drive. The trailhead is on the left.
The Cordova trailhead is on Main Avenue. From SR 84 (Great River Road) turn west on Main Avenue and take a left on 11th Street. The parking lot is in the park on the right. You will not see the trail; from the parking lot, head left (north) on 11th Street, turn left again on 2nd Avenue and then look for the green bike route signs.
To reach the Rock Island trailhead from Interstate 280, take SR 93 (Centennial Expressway) to the Sunset Lane Exit. Turn left on Sunset Lane and look for the trailhead on the right at Sunset Park.
To get to know our home state a little better, we drove from Chicago to Galena and spent a couple days there. Then we drove to Savanna, parked the car, and rode the entire length of the GR Trail from Savanna to Rock Island (day 1) and back to Savanna ...
Jaunt through Albany
I've ridden sections of this trail quite a few times. I noticed on the view map that the trail didn't make a round about trip through some pretty steep hills in Albany. So I figured I'd ride the trail as far as I could in the time I had. I rode from East ...
Great weekend trip
We rode this trail from Fisherman's Corner on the Illinois side near Hampton. We camped there, it was a nice facility. We stopped at the ice cream shop, Remember when, in Hampton twice while there. Good ice cream but candy is not anything homemade, it ...