Sterling Birding Trails and Maps

322 Reviews

Looking for the best Birding trails around Sterling?

Find the top rated birding trails in Sterling, whether you're looking for an easy short birding trail or a long birding trail, you'll find what you're looking for. Click on a birding trail below to find trail descriptions, trail maps, photos, and reviews.

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Activities
Length
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32 Results
Activities
Length
Surfaces
Type

Badger State Trail

40 mi
State: WI
Asphalt, Crushed Stone

Bauer Memorial Path

1.3 mi
State: IL
Asphalt

Baumann Park Recreation Path

1.25 mi
State: IL
Asphalt

Bear River Recreation Trail

5.6 mi
State: IA
Crushed Stone

Charles Street Community Path

2.6 mi
State: IL
Asphalt

Clinton Discovery Trail

9.8 mi
State: IA
Asphalt, Concrete

Copper Creek Trail

0.75 mi
State: IA
Crushed Stone

Duck Creek Recreational Trail

13.5 mi
State: IA
Asphalt

Eldridge/Long Grove Trail

3.5 mi
State: IA
Asphalt, Concrete

Four Sisters Bike Path

4.3 mi
State: IL
Asphalt

Great River Trail

62.3 mi
State: IL
Asphalt

Harrison Avenue/Mulford Road Bike Path

3.5 mi
State: IL
Asphalt, Concrete

Hennepin Canal Parkway

104.5 mi
State: IL
Asphalt, Crushed Stone

Illinois & Michigan Canal State Trail

79.5 mi
State: IL
Asphalt, Crushed Stone, Grass, Gravel

Jane Addams Trail

18.9 mi
State: IL
Asphalt, Crushed Stone

Joe Stengel Trail

7.9 mi
State: IL
Ballast, Grass, Gravel

Kishwaukee River Recreation Path

2.5 mi
State: IL
Asphalt

Kishwaukee-Kiwanis Trail

4.5 mi
State: IL
Asphalt

Lowell Parkway Trail

3.5 mi
State: IL
Asphalt

Lynn Boulevard/Westwood Trail

3.7 mi
State: IL
Asphalt
Accordion

Mel Anderson Memorial Path

2.7 mi
State: IL
Asphalt

Oregon Park East Bike Path

0.25 mi
State: IL
Asphalt

Paul Skeffington Memorial Trail

5 mi
State: IA
Asphalt

Pecatonica Prairie Trail

12.5 mi
State: IL
Asphalt, Crushed Stone

Perryville Path

6.7 mi
State: IL
Asphalt

Riverfront Trail (IA)

11.9 mi
State: IA
Asphalt, Concrete

Rock Island Trail (IL)

38.2 mi
State: IL
Asphalt, Crushed Stone

Rock River Recreation Path

10 mi
State: IL
Asphalt

Saelens Park Trail

1 mi
State: IL
Asphalt

South Main Street Path

2.25 mi
State: IL
Asphalt

Swanson Park Recreation Path

2.4 mi
State: IL
Asphalt
Trail Image Trail Name States Length Surface Rating
Rail-trail fans know that Wisconsin’s Elroy-Sparta State Trail is famous for its three tunnels. The Badger State Trail, which heads south from Madison to the Illinois state line (where it connects...
WI 40 mi Asphalt, Crushed Stone
The Bauer Memorial Path provides a short route through residential and commercial areas of Machesney Park, a northern suburb of Rockford. The trail begins at the Harlem Community Center and travels in...
IL 1.3 mi Asphalt
Baumann Park is adjacent to the Kishwaukee River in Cherry Valley, a community on the outskirts of Rockford in northern Illinois. A paved pathway runs through the park and loops around Baumann Park...
IL 1.25 mi Asphalt
The Bear River Recreation Trail follows part of the Maquoketa River outside of Spragueville and Preston, through bucolic countryside of woodlands, farms and river lowlands. You can start the trail in...
IA 5.6 mi Crushed Stone
The Charles Street Community Path offers a neighborhood route through southeastern Rockford, connecting residents to CherryVale Mall on its eastern end. On its western end, Alpine Park is just north...
IL 2.6 mi Asphalt
Located in the scenic riverside city of Clinton, the Clinton Discovery Trail offers trail users a wonderful way to make the most of the city's prime location on the banks of the Mississippi River....
IA 9.8 mi Asphalt, Concrete
The Copper Creek Trail runs for a short distance from the town of Preston, heading northwest along Copper Creek to meet with the Bear River Recreation Trail. You'll find a nice picnic spot with a...
IA 0.75 mi Crushed Stone
The Duck Creek Recreational Trail, also known as Duck Creek Parkway Trail, traverses three riverfront cities in the Quad Cities region of eastern Iowa, offering residents the opportunity for a...
IA 13.5 mi Asphalt
Running between the rural communities of Eldridge and Long Grove to the north of Davenport, the Eldridge/Long Grove Trail provides a great recreational asset to these small, quiet suburbs. The path...
IA 3.5 mi Asphalt, Concrete
The Four Sisters Bike Path forms a horseshoe around the northern end of Rochelle, a small city south of Rockford in northern Illinois. The path connects several schools and parks, and the city has...
IL 4.3 mi Asphalt
The Great River Trail is a breathtaking journey along more than 60 miles of the Mississippi River in northern Illinois. In places, the paved trail follows the former spur route of the Chicago, St....
IL 62.3 mi Asphalt
In southeastern Rockford, a paved pathway begins at a connection with the Charles Street Community Path then heads south along Mulford Road through a residential area. At Harrison Avenue, the path...
IL 3.5 mi Asphalt, Concrete
The Hennepin Canal Parkway, administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources as a state park, follows an old towpath along a canal opened in 1907 and quickly abandoned due to competition...
IL 104.5 mi Asphalt, Crushed Stone
The Illinois and Michigan Canal State Trail follows the eponymous waterway alongside the Illinois River. It traverses the I&M Canal National Heritage Corridor, designated in 1984 and the first...
IL 79.5 mi Asphalt, Crushed Stone, Grass, Gravel
There’s no debating the historical significance of the Jane Addams Trail. Not only is it named for a Nobel Peace Prize-winning social activist who grew up nearby, but the trail also passes the site of...
IL 18.9 mi Asphalt, Crushed Stone
The Joe Stengel Trail follows an old railroad corridor for 7 miles between the town of Polo and the much smaller community of Woosung. The trail corridor traces farm country along a route scattered...
IL 7.9 mi Ballast, Grass, Gravel
The Kishwaukee River Recreation Path runs for 2.5 miles in Cherry Valley on the outskirts of Rockford in northern Illinois. The well-maintained, asphalt trail connects the Kishwaukee River Forest...
IL 2.5 mi Asphalt
The Kishwaukee-Kiwanis Trail winds through the northern Illinois town of DeKalb, coursing along a river, through woodlands, among open spaces through parks and through suburban back yards. The trail...
IL 4.5 mi Asphalt
The Lowell Parkway Trail runs through the charming town of Dixon, Illinois, boyhood home of Ronald Reagan. The trail occupies the rail bed of the old Illinois Central Railroad, between Lowell Park and...
IL 3.5 mi Asphalt
The trail user can be transported from the bustling Westwood Fitness and Sports Center to a beautiful wooded trail that offers Elkhorn Creek on the far outer loop of the trail, a shelter at the top of...
IL 3.7 mi Asphalt
Accordion
The Mel Anderson Memorial Path, named for a long-serving alderman of the Seventh Ward, stretches nearly 3 miles, connecting Lockwood Park, Searls Park, Bressler Park and Talcott-Page Park. Mid-way,...
IL 2.7 mi Asphalt
Oregon Park East Bike Path is nestled along the east bank of the Rock River in the small town of Oregon in northern Illinois. The 23-acre park offers athletic facilities, restrooms, grills, and picnic...
IL 0.25 mi Asphalt
Paul Skeffington Memorial Trail is a 5-mile pathway in Dewitt, Iowa. The trail provides safe, well-shaded access from residential neighborhoods to the 100 acre Westbrook Park. It includes a concrete...
IA 5 mi Asphalt
The Pecatonica Prairie Trail, formerly known as the Pecatonica Prairie Path, is a 12.5-mile rail-trail extending from the western edge of Rockford to the Winnebago–Stephenson county line west of...
IL 12.5 mi Asphalt, Crushed Stone
The Perryville Path runs nearly 7 miles, connecting the communities of Loves Park and Rockford, not far from the northern border of Illinois. A pleasant place to begin your journey is Rock Cut State...
IL 6.7 mi Asphalt
Iowa's Riverfront Trail runs along the Mississippi River through the cities of Davenport and Bettendorf to its eastern endpoint near the large Alcoa plant in Riverdale. In the west, the trail starts...
IA 11.9 mi Asphalt, Concrete
Caution: As of August 2017, the trail is closed due to storm washouts from Mile 13.4 to Mile 13.9; this closure is located approximately 2.5 miles north of Princeville in Peoria County. The trail is...
IL 38.2 mi Asphalt, Crushed Stone
The paved Rock River Recreation Trail winds throughout downtown Rockford and environs, following the east bank of the Rock River through Shorewood Park and Martin Memorial Park. Officially, the trail...
IL 10 mi Asphalt
The Sterling Multi-Activity Recreational Trail starts at one end at the edge of the Hoover Park parking lot and heads into a scenic wooded trail crossing a wooden bridge over Woodlawn Creek and...
IL 2 mi Asphalt
The paved trail running through Nick Saelens Memorial Park is a pretty one, with a loop around a small pond and much of it following a tree-lined creek. The park is nestled in the Village of Durand in...
IL 1 mi Asphalt
This is a newly constructed path that runs between S. Main Street and the Rock River in Rockford. It was built as part of the re-building of S. Main Street and runs from South Park south to the...
IL 2.25 mi Asphalt
Swanson Park Recreation Path is sometimes known as the Cherry Valley Path as it's located in the Village of Cherry Valley on the outskirts of Rockford in northern Illinois. The paved path travels...
IL 2.4 mi Asphalt

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Trails by activity

Recent Trail Reviews

Jane Addams Trail

Lovely trail. Fine for road bikes if path is dry.

July, 2018 by wilsonae

Took my road bike to Tutty's trailhead in Freeport. Paved trail is well marked. Ramp out over railway tracks so you have to carry your bike over, but this seems to be in the process of being fixed. End of pavement leads to limestone trail (TURN RIGHT; signs very confusing). This is the best part of the trail. You can still see some railway tracks imbedded in the dirt at crossroads (which are mercifully few). Perfectly lovely trail, lots of trees for cooler ride, straight flat packed earth. Only one person passed by me in 16 miles; no walkers, runners, dogs or other bikes. Peaceful solitude and beautiful rural countryside. The trail was fine for my road bike, but I would not ride here if it were wet or muddy. Can't wait to do the whole thing.

Rock Island Trail (IL)

Mixed Bag but Fun

July, 2018 by negangardo

I've skated the riverfront section and also from Harvard Ave to Alta. The pavements varies in quality from very nice to very rough and cracked. The stretch from Midstate College to Harvard Ave is probably the best for those that want good pavement. Also beware of the tunnel at roughly mile 11.75, as it is situated after a blind turn at the base of a hill. Easier to navigate it coming from the north, but very sketchy coming from the south. It's a great albeit narrow path once in the long tunnel though. I'd probably recommend the East Peoria trail over this one but it is still a good skate or ride.

Great River Trail

Savannah to Thomson Only

June, 2018 by jorourke61088

Only had time to go from Savannah to Thomson. It is all paved. The first part is tree lined trail. The water in the rivers was high and the trail could use some weed wacking. After a while you got on to country roads that went past the river. It was windy and there wasn't a lot to shield you but it was a nice day. I would have liked to have seen more of the Mississippi River. Maybe 25% or so you can see the Mississippi but the rest of the view is blocked by houses or trees. Tons of parking in Savannah by the railroad car.

Accordion

Great River Trail

Review of the West End of the Trail Only

June, 2018 by pedalfree

I rode from the trailhead at Sunset Park in Rock Island to the Arsenal Bridge where I crossed into Iowa, so this review is only for that short section of the trail. It's urban and it moves onto and off the high levee overlooking the Mississippi with ease.

Parking at Sunset Park is easy, and routefinding isn't a challenge at all.
Just head north and follow the signs. Once you're out of the park, you'll climb onto a flood control levee overlooking Old Man River. The views are spectacular. The trail eventually comes off the levee and into a neighborhood that has an industrial urban feel to it, but I don't mean that in a bad way. It adds flavor and it just felt very safe. The pavement is as smooth as it gets and the signage is just about right. People along the trail were kind and friendly.

Bottom line, this is a really nice section of trail that overlooks an iconic American landmark. It's well worth the ride if you get the chance.

Riverfront Trail (IA)

Downtown Davenport Section

June, 2018 by pedalfree

I was traveling through the Quad Cities on the way home to northwest Iowa from Indiana and had a chance to stop and ride some of the trails on both sides of the river here. Most of my riding was on the Illinois side, but I crossed the river on the Centennial Bridge, rode through downtown Davenport on this trail and then crossed the river again on the Arsenal Bridge.

So this review is only for the section of the trail between the two bridges. That said, I loved it. Downtown Davenport was vibrant and this trail was smooth, safe, easy to navigate and well signed. To see the Mississippi up close on a bike gives you a real sense for just how big and powerful it is. I loved the entire experience and will come back to ride more.

Hennepin Canal Parkway

A Slice of Wilderness in an Otherwise Developed Place

June, 2018 by pedalfree

It would be easy to view this trail in a negative light. The pavement is a mixed bag. It's not fast and smooth. Maintenance appears to be non-existent. There are hazards. There are snakes (I ran over one) and loads of bugs. You won't find a lot of services, at least at the west end.

But what you also won't find is a lot of people and sometimes that's a good thing. You won't find the type of self-absorbed roadies and triatheletes who sometimes terrorize other trail users by buzzing them at 25 mph. You won't find a lot suburban dog walkers. What you will find are cyclists and runners who genuinely enjoy being out in the natural world. If you like your nature natural instead of Disneyfied, you're gonna love this trail. If you like history, there are a number of locks along the trail. This was once a working canal. A local runner I met on the trail told me that it was the model for the Panama Canal.

I rode from Colona to Geneseo and back on Saturday June 9, 2018. It's a 21 mile round trip. It was muggy but interestingly enough, there were pockets of cooler air, too. The underpass below I80 was dark and flooded...real horror movie stuff. About a mile up, a small bridge was out but someone had carved a bypass and my Salsa Fargo with 29 x 2.25 WTB Rangers handed it just fine. I was surprised at how empty it felt out here. This is a part of the country where it's really hard to get away from civilization, but on this stretch at least, you can. The miles flew by and soon enough I was back at my car.

I've read a number of comments from people who tried to tackle this on road bikes. It's probably doable if you're adept at picking a line, but there are better bikes to choose for this. I got lucky and picked the right one and that no doubt added to my enjoyment. You could ride it on just about anything though. It's just not that rugged. It is pockmarked and goes from mostly paved to mostly unpaved and back many times. Between the mud and berries, my bike was filthy when I got back to the car. Bring a rag and clean it off when you're done or you'll have a mess when you get home.

The moral of the story here is to know what it is you're getting into and plan accordingly. Bring Deet unless you want to be eaten alive. Don't go traipsing through the weeds unless you want to get up close and personal with snakes. You're traversing what is mostly a wild wetland and if my experience was any indication, you'll have it mostly to yourself. That's pretty special in this day and age. Five stars, only because I can't give it six.

Hennepin Canal Parkway

Wyanet to Bureau Junction

May, 2018 by elindst1

Rode the Hennepin canal from Wyanet to the end of trail in Bureau Junction. Took our road bikes and that was not a mistake. We parked at the Bureau Valley Wyanet Elementary school which is about a ½ mile easy ride to the trail. The trail started out as dirt/crushed limestone which made it a bit of a slow go at first. It then changed to old asphalt type material.

7.5 miles from the end there was about a ½ mile of packed down gravel which wasn’t the best to ride on with our road bikes but it was passable. After that stretch it was a combination of old asphalt and some dirt on top of old asphalt.

There were also 2-3 parks along the way with toilets (no running water though). In fact, you should be prepared to ride the whole way with however much food and water you need as there really are no places to stop.

All of it was pretty level and the condition of the surface was decent until the last 2-3 miles. This was still ok for the road bikes but the condition of the surface was just not as good.

Illinois & Michigan Canal State Trail

Bumpy ride

May, 2018 by ryanalf

I rode Ottawa to LaSalle. Sections of the trail were very rough. Motorbike tracks, moguls and stream remnants made the trail dangerous. The history and the washed out bridge are awesome(see photo).

Illinois & Michigan Canal State Trail

Start of the trail season warnings

March, 2018 by chubbycheeks

My husband rode his fat tire bike on the trail this morning between Chestnut St., in Ottawa, and the Buffalo Rock trail parking lot. His goal was to check out the conditions of the trail. He said that it was not fun. He came back via the street. The trail was wet, and the 1/2 mile from Chestnut west, as well as the 1/2 mile from Buffalo Rock east had many piles of dog poop. (There is a parking lot at Buffalo Rock that people use when they walk their dogs.) Seems like the dog walkers do not even bother to sweep the poop piles to the side. That is the least you can do if you are not going to pick it up.

Badger State Trail

bager state trail

November, 2017 by stuff6

Rode south out of fitchburg. About 5-6 miles south this turns into a limestone path. I rode it in november so maybe its better in the summer but its no skinny tire road bike route. Was nice until then.

Illinois & Michigan Canal State Trail

good relaxing ride, completed in segments

October, 2017 by eric.dobson2

I finally completed the trail in LaSalle last weekend, I had been completing the entire route in segments throughout the summer. Overall, I enjoyed the experience, I liked the historical placards and informative mile markers. Yes, I stopped and read every one of them! I thought it was really well done, and very interesting history of the canal and its construction and usage. Cool grande finale ending up in LaSalle where the packet boat and mule towpath was in full display with the tour.

I started in Lemont where the trail begins, through Lockport (the old canal headquarters) and got through Joliet. A must see is the old Joliet Iron Works, an interesting historical walking tour. The next segment I completed was from Joliet (Rockdale) to Channahon, with beautiful views of the Illinois River. Saw an abundance of varied wildlife as the canal here is wide with plenty of water still left in it. McKinley Woods Park is a nice diversion to take a break. Channahon to Morris was the next segment, again with nice views of barges on the river and the Dresden dam area. From Morris to Marseilles the trail begins to get more woodsy, and at some points the trail goes from crushed limestone to single track dirt. This is where the canal is hard to see, as it has dried up over the years, thus there is less wildlife to see. From Marseilles to Ottawa the trail is still woodsy, but becomes more industrial as you are riding next to train tracks and grain silos along the river for much of it. Ottawa to Utica becomes more scenic as you start to see the St Peters sandstone cliffs at certain points. Finally from Utica to LaSalle you can see much more of this, and the trail ends with a lock with all of its functioning parts, as would have existed back in the day.

I normally ride on much more challenging, tougher and more hilly terrain with my trail bike, so this was a change of pace for me. The trail is in decent shape, but you can tell that it has not been maintained for awhile. There are bridges out in several spots (easy to get around), and fallen trees that you need to lift your bike over. All in all, I would recommend it to the casual rider, seeking an interesting history of the canal from back in the nineteenth century. Happy riding!

Hennepin Canal Parkway

A Nice Ride

September, 2017 by mcaples67

Road 60 miles (30 out and back) from trailhead at Rock River in Colona. We brought our road bikes (23mm tires), expecting paved trails. It was slow going, but certainly doable. The trail is definitely in need of repair and maintenance. It is flat, peaceful and quite beautiful. The canal history and artifacts (locks, etc) are a very interesting perk.
Fortunately we packed extra water. We had trouble finding water stops along the way. There was a fountain at the lock (14 miles from the trailhead) but it was not working in late September even though it was almost 90 degrees.

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