Galena River Trail


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Galena River Trail Facts

States: Illinois
Counties: Jo Daviess
Length: 4.5 miles
Trail end points: Galena Recreational Park at Field St. and Galena Junction
Trail surfaces: Crushed Stone
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6015750
Trail activities: Bike, Wheelchair Accessible, Mountain Biking, Walking

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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 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.

Parking and Trail Access

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.

Galena River Trail Reviews

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.

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!!

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!

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.

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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