Galena River Trail


19 Reviews

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Galena River Trail Facts

States: Illinois
Counties: Jo Daviess
Length: 8 miles
Trail end points: Galena Recreational Park at Field St. and S River Rd. (Aiken)
Trail surfaces: Crushed Stone
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6015750

Galena River Trail Description

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 line—still active—follows 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 continues 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.

Parking and Trail Access

There is parking at each of the trail's three trailheads, starting at the northern trailhead at Galena Recreation Park, 1721 Field St, the Galena trailhead at 1107 Park Ave and the southern trailhead in Aiken along S River Rd.

See TrailLink Map for more detailed information.

Galena River Trail Reviews

Road all the way to the end at Aiken, Illinois

We parked at the trail head at the Galena Recreation Park Parking. There is a ton of parking there and it is very safe. The parking is free. This trail is wonderful! It is a crushed limestone trail with no safety concerns. There are many areas for nice photo op's! Very easy trail to ride for all ages. Not many people on this trail even during the July 4th holiday which was surprising to us.

beautiful trail - continue on to Chestnut mountain

What a beautiful and accessible trail, with a lovely range of scenery along the way. At the end of the official trail, turn right on a (lightly trafficked) country road to continue another couple of miles to the base of Chestnut Mountain ski lift. On the day we went, the lift was running and it was free for cyclists to go up and explore.

My wife and I started at the northern terminus and went til we ran out of road! About 19 miles round trip. On a 90 degree day, the canopy of trees and limestone bluffs were about 10-15 degrees cooler. Trail is extremely well maintained.

My wife and I started at the northern terminus and went til we ran out of road! About 19 miles round trip. On a 90 degree day, the canopy of trees and limestone bluffs were about 10-15 degrees cooler. Trail is extremely well maintained.

Galena River Trail

Very neat trail with trains, and rivers. Well maintained! It’s worth the trip and if you do the down and back you can make it a 20 mile trip. I found this video on YouTube of the train and river


Hunting season

We'd planned to ride this trail the weekend of Oct. 30, but it was closed for turkey hunting season. The city of Galena had the trail blocked with signs giving closure dates for various hunting season weekends; if you're hoping to ride in the fall you might want to check before you come. It looks great and we hope to ride in a safer season for cyclists.

Out of Date Information

The trail does not end abruptly at the BNSF Railroad mainline at the location called Galena Junction. There are not any future plans to extend the trail beyond Galena Jct, because the trail was extended in the past.
The c. 2019 extension is about two miles long, heading SE from Galena Jct alongside the BNSF mainline to Aiken.


Rode on Friday the 18th. Saw 2 walkers but no bikers. Started at the Galena Recreation Park. Added the 2.6 miles to get to the bottom of Chestnut Mountain Resort and the trail to entrance of Buehler Preserve. Ended with a total of 21.1. Because of my age I was glad to have my pedal assist bike. Nice day.

Fun Ride

Had a fun ride on this trail. In spite of rain all of the previous day, the trail was in good shape. It wasn’t crowded. Pretty scenery and lots of “cathedral tree shade”. We even saw indigo buntings! A few inclines, but we have Ebikes, so no problems for us. We will do this again next time in Galena

Fun biking trail with plenty of great scenery and interesting stops. Plus easy access to the main steet of Galena, which can keep you entertained for days. Awesome weekend adventure destination.

Fun biking trail with plenty of great scenery and interesting stops. Plus easy access to the main steet of Galena, which can keep you entertained for days. Awesome weekend adventure destination.

Lovely shady ride. OK for road bikes

A stunning afternoon and my first time riding around Galena. Hopped the trail from the Depot parking lot (signage is a bit lacking but the access is on the SE corner of the lot by the boat launch.

Absolutely smashing ride all the way to Aiken (they seem to have opened up the preserve so there were a few extra miles). Trail is shady and pretty good, mostly flat with a few small hills. Only saw 3 other bikers the whole length. No kids, no runners, very private. It's finely packed gravel so my road bike was okay and there were no moments of alarm. A section heading south follows a paved road but there do not seem to be many cars or other trail users.

The other end of the parking lot by the actual depot (cute little restaurant called Otto's right there; looks very popular) starts the short end of the trail. Runs flat and is completely out in the open and along the river. Stunning day, great scenery.

Would do it again in a heartbeat. Got in a good 13-mile round trip.

Nice trail along Galena River

This is a pretty trail with a few gentle hills but mostly flat and tree lined. Start in the parking lot by the train depot and head south for several miles along the river toward the Mississippi. Or head north for a couple miles. Watch out for walnuts in the fall.

great trail but bumpy

We rode from the first trailhead in Rock Island to Cordova. About 25 miles one way. We all loved the trail. It was a mix of urban, small town and rural. I especially liked riding the top of the levy right next to the river. However the trail is very bumpy in spots. It could use some work. All four of us were on road bikes and the trail is fine for road bikes but the bumps got old. On the way out it didn’t really bother me but once we turned around and were getting tired the constant bumps got old quickly. One thing we liked was that you rarely had to cross a road.

Fall 2017 Update

With 60 degree weather the day after Thanksgiving I took a quick ride down the trail to the south end. I was pleasantly surprised with the progress being made on the trail extension. The 2-3 mile extension is carved into the side of the hill high above the railroad tracks. It traverses a new 60 ft bridge before descending down and running parallel to the service road. It looks to be complete to S. River Rd or Aiken sometime early in 2018.


I'm not sure what it was like before, but a new culvert is now in place between mile markers 1.5 and 2 and the trail is passable.


This trail is closed about 1.75miles the bridge is out!!

Good family trail

We have a second home nearby and use the trail more often than we expected we would because of it's length. As others have said, it's a short but its a very pretty ride, well maintained and mercifully shaded for those hot days. The trail is especially pretty in the Fall. We add length to our ride by parking at Recreation Park (free). From there we ride to the main trail following the City's bike path to the edge of downtown and then cross the pedestrian bridge and follow the path along the river. On our return we'll often ride through downtown and stop at one of the great restaurants for a meal before heading back to Rec. Park. To us it's great way to spend a couple of hours.

Very well maintained and a great hike. Lots to see along the way!

Galena trail is a lovely little trip!

We took this trail because my daughter was giving her 1 & 2 year old thier first bike experience, and we didn't want anything too tough. It was a VERY hot day, but the entire path is quite shaded and relatively level. There is a great little picnic stop to make about halfway through. There is also a natural spring that was interesting to take a peek at. The scenery itself is somewhat limited, as the whole path is almost enclosed with greenery. - but that helped to keep us cool.
When you stop though, if it is bug season, they are plentiful.
You can ride past the visitor center the other way along the river. I don't know how far it goes, as I said it was very hot and sunny so we didn't ride that direction with the babies -- but would have been a lovely evening ride.
A parking tip? - The head of the trail can be reached by turning into the Galena visitor center and then driving back through the parking lot under the route 20 bridge.
We rented a bike trailer for the boys, and it would have been MUCH easier to park there and walk across the bridge to the bike rental place than to try to park on Main Street and THEN get to the trail.
Happy biking! This is just under 8 miles round trip. It was lovely.

short but sweet

I rode this short trail in late June encountering no other users. It looked like there had been some strong winds as the trail was littered with branches, twigs, leaves, etc. Hope they clean it up quickly. About half way into the trail there were hundreds of Monarch butterflies. The trail actually goes a little farther east than the map indicates where you can cross over the river at that end into the beautiful, historic downtown area. If you're in Galena sightseeing, this trail (plus riding around town) is a nice distraction to all the shops the ladies like to go to. (I took some photos & will post soon.)

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