We parked at Martin Park and went south to Whitman Street - 7.9 miles round trip according to Base Camp. There are a bunch of parks and other attractions on the way. We walked three segments of the path that are joined by two segments that are on city streets.
About two thirds of the route is actual bike path and the rest is city streets. There are no signs directing you how to get between the discontinuous segments of the path, so unless you know how to get from one segment to another, you are just out of luck. The streets used to get from segment to segment are relatively lightly used, so are not too bad for bikes. Sidewalks are sporadic and I often ended up walking in the street in the on street segment between Shorewood Park and Illinois Street Park.
The first segment of the actual bike path we walked was in Martin Park. This park is located at the SW corner of the Rock River and Riverside Blvd. You can't get to it from Riverside though. There is a sign on Riverside Blvd at East Drive directing one south to Shorewood Park that is where you turn to get to Martin Park. If you continue down East Drive it also goes to Shorewood Park.
Martin Park is a typical city park. It has grass, playground equipment, picnic tables, benches, water fountains, trash cans, etc. It has a boat launch and an indoor picnic shelter with toilet facilities (real flush toilets too). Walking by I saw padlocks on them and thought they were locked but the hasps were open so you could use them. There is also a lagoon.
The on street segment from Martin Park to Shorewood Park comes out of the south end of Martin Park one block east on River Lane to East Drive. It takes East Drive south to Evelyn Avenue where it runs east for about a half a block to where the bike path picks up again in Shorewood Park. About 1/2 a mile on streets. There is no sidewalk along River Lane. There is a sidewalk along East Drive and Evelyn Avenue, but it is only continuous along the west side of East Drive and only exists along the south side of Evelyn Avenue. The sidewalk is narrow, and there are a number of places where vegetation has grown out over the sidewalk. There are hand painted arrows on the street showing you how to get from Martin Park to East Drive, probably left overs from a bike-a-thon or something.
Shorewood Park also has the typical city park facilities. It also had flush toilets. The Ski Broncs arena is located here. They do ski exhibitions during the summer. I think they are free to the public, but not sure. There is a lagoon here with a boardwalk. I did not try the boardwalk on our way south as there were a bunch of children playing on it. On the way back it was quite dark, and we went out about half way on the boardwalk to where one side of the boardwalk has sunk about 8 or 10 inches. I decided not to walk any farther in the dark on a boardwalk that crooked.
After coming out of Shorewood Park, we proceeded south to Illinois Street Park. I think the official route is supposed to be to come out on Forest Grove St. one block SE to Snow Ave, 1/2 a block east to Arlington St, south to Ransom Place, east to Illinois St., and then south along Illinois Street to Illinois Street Park. It's about 3/4 of a mile on street. We did not take this route exactly either coming or going. Sidewalks are pretty sporadic along this route, and many spots sidewalks did not exist at all. There are some hand painted markings on the streets I noticed here and there but they were not especially helpful.
Illinois Street park is mostly just a field along Illinois Street. I noticed some benches and trash cans. There was a toilet building at the south end of the park. It was open. Flush toilets. Outside the toilet building was a water fountain. It even had a dog water bowl. Illinois Street goes along a rail road line that does not appear to currently be in use. The bike path is adjacent to the RR line all the way from Illinois Street Park to Whitman Street, never more than about 50 feet away.
The bike path starts up again at the south end of Illinois Street Park where the street dead ends into the bike path. Sinnissippi River Front Park starts at the south end of Illinois Street Park and continues along the river front all the way down to the YMCA complex that is located at Whitman Street.
There is an underpass at Spring Creek Road. I have seen it flooded several times from the road, but there is a path segment that goes up to the road for those occasions. The Symbol sculpture and several smaller versions of it can be found in this park. Sinnissippi Gardens and Lagoon are also here, although the lagoon is currently closed for construction. They are also building a new boat dock near the lagoon.
Just south of the lagoon is Nicholas Conservatory. There is an outbuilding here with a water fountain and flush toilets. There was a dog dish there with water in it, but Wilma refused to drink from it. She generally does not like to drink from community water bowls. She did drink some water out of my hand though.
The YMCA complex is located to the south at Whitman Street. It is a lot larger than I realized. They have a picnic shelter and toilet facility and water fountain they maintain along the path just north of Whitman Street. There is a sign that says the toilet facility is only open during the summer months and only during certain hours. For some reason it closes early on weekends, but is open till 10 pm during the week.
The path actually continues on a pedestrian bridge across Whitman Street, and then just stops on the west side of the river. We did not go across the bridge. Just turned around and went back when we got to the bridge.
There were a lot of geese along the path segment in River Front Park. Lots of goose poop on the path. People feed the geese so of course they hang around the path. The park district has spent hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of dollars trying to control the goose problem, but it does not appear to have had any real effect since the last time I was down that way maybe 15 years ago.
Lots of walkers, bikes, and dogs taking their humans for a walk. Several people stopped to pet Wilma. One woman gave her a couple of treats. The bikers were an assortment of casual bikers, kids, and bikers in a big hurry. I did not see anyone on roller blades. I have heard the kids on roller blades can be quite obnoxious and was glad they were not out today to run over Wilma.
I doubt I will walk this again any time soon. I prefer a less crowded and more scenic path. I also prefer other than paved surfaces. I can walk on city streets anywhere. The actual bike path segments are nice. It is too bad they were never able to connect them up properly. Given how disruptive it would be to do so (especially between Martin and Shorewood Parks), I doubt the path segments will ever be connected.
My route map and some video posted at: http://ilbob.blogspot.com/2012/06/6-2-12-rock-river-recreation-path.html