A trail has one great advantage over most fitness venues: it comes with a view.
By Chuck Oestreich
Quad cities Online
Stretching before us for biking, running or walking, a trail has one great advantage over most fitness venues: it comes with a view. It’s both multipurposed and multidimensioned. Besides offering varying fitness and conditioning, its interest level can be towering. Using a trail, to borrow from Ernest Hemingway, is like “a movable feast” — with the participant doing the moving and the feasting. In this growing season, a trail reaffirms life, both in us and in the nature around it.
So get out and use these linear parks. Let them open your bodies to fitness, your eyes to beauty and your minds to the rich culture surrounding the paths.
The Great River Trail
One of the longest river view trails in the nation, this trail runs for 65 miles from Sunset Park in Rock Island, Ill., to the nifty downtown in Savanna, Ill. Within the Quad-Cities, the path is a 30-mile gem. Besides multiple views of the expansive Mississippi River and gentle parks along its shore, the path offers a mini-course in American industrial history. John Deere, International Harvester, Case, Weyerhaeuser Lumber, to name a few, labored beside the river. But be quick about your urban archaeology; the river has been rediscovered and the old is being torn down and new living, working and learning facilities are springing up.
The path is accessible at so many points that planning a biking, walking or running trip is as simple as heading to River Drive in Moline, Ill., or Illinois highways 92 or 84. Just look for entrances to the river.
The Kiwanis Trail
This four-mile trail is the best-kept trail secret in the Quad-Cities. It follows the Rock River from 7th Street to Green Valley Park/60th Street in Moline. Mostly on little-used riverfront roads, the path, besides giving glimpses of the river and the neat cottage-like homes on its shore, has its own secret. It’s a way to gain bike-friendly access to the burgeoning commercial entities along John Deere Road. Unfortunately the path is only sporadically signed. But if you stay as close to the river as possible, you’ll be OK.
To reach this trail, use either 7th, 16th or 48th streets in Moline to get to the Rock River. Green Valley Park at 48th Street is a likely place to start.
Sylvan Island Trail
Unnatural gems sometimes sparkle; this small island, formed by man, used and then abandoned by industry and now reclaimed for multiple uses, is a special place in Moline, Ill. Fishermen, walkers, bird watchers and curious explorers ply its maze of trails. But it’s a green magnet for mountain bikers — those with a yen for the ups, downs, quick turns and sudden pulls of dirt trails. Definitely a gem in the rough.
The island is located off 1st Street and River Drive in Moline near the Rock Island border.
The Hennepin Canal Parkway Trail
Although this trail is all of 60 miles from Colona, Ill., to Bureau County on the Illinois River, a neat day trip is along this historic and scenic trail from Colona to Geneseo, Ill. The 12-mile segment is serene and cool, with a great lock stop thrown in. The trail utilizes the towpath right alongside the canal, giving water views on one side and woods, wetlands and fields on the other. Watch for the frogs, turtles and great blue herons, which love this restful, elongated spot. Good access is at Timbrook Field trailhead in Colona and at Geneseo’s Lock 24 Day Use Area.
The Galena River Trail
Brand new and just the ticket for a hot summer day, this three-and-a-half-mile trail links bustling Galena, Ill., with its historic Mississippi River landing. Following the meandering Galena River, the trail gives wonderful views of riverside flora and fauna. But a standout is the canopy of trees that covers almost the entire length of the trail. The place to start is at the Galena Visitor’s Center and parking lot just off U.S. 20 southeast of the river. Pick up more information there, and head out for a smooth ride on a dream path.
The Heritage Trail
This trail starts in Dubuque, Iowa, and offers 26 miles of rails-to-trails fun as you follow the meandering Little Maquoketa River through woods, fields, and rock formations to Dyersville, with its basilica and “Field of Dreams” site. The trail is easy to do since it follows an old railroad bed, and it leads through a miniature “Garden of the Gods” at one point. Bridges, overlooks and even a view of the Sundown Ski Area keep interest at a high point. Look for an entrance point just north of Dubuque off U.S. 52.
The Riverfront Trail
City excitement, cultural amenities, sports facilities, green parks, an historic island and the enduring spectacle of the mighty Mississippi River — all are within a pedal turn or a footstep along the nine miles of trail on the Iowa side of the Mississippi in the Quad-Cities. Starting at Davenport’s Credit Island with its golf course and outdoor art and ending at Bettendorf’s riverboat complex, the trail is a potpourri of off-the-road, relax-or-max-out fun. Both the downtowns of Davenport and Bettendorf are just across the street (or skybridge if you’re walking), offering art and music for your soul and food and drink for your body.
To reach this trail, just head for the river. Park at Credit Island, anywhere in the Davenport or Bettendorf downtown lots or parks, or at Mound Street in the Village of East Davenport or Leach Park at the foot of the Interstate 74 bridge in Bettendorf.
Duck Creek Parkway
Following the course of a creek that surprisingly runs parallel to the Mississippi, this 12-mile path is also unique in that it’s in the very heart of the urban areas of Davenport and Bettendorf. And it covers all the bases: undulating prairie; cool and refreshing woods; limestone “dells” — it’s secluded nature amid the city.
The trail is easily accessible. Just travel any of the major north-south streets (like Marquette, Division, Harrison and Brady in Davenport) and you’ll cross it, and in most cases be able to park.
Iowa River Corridor Trail
Bike, walk, or run next to the lovely Iowa River as it runs through Iowa City and the University of Iowa campus for six miles — and then another seven miles to Coralville Lake. The U of I is the focus here, but downtown Iowa City and the Old Capitol building are as close as a few shifts of your derailleur. And don’t forget to take in the historic Iowa River Power Company complex to the north of the main trail. Access the trail at either Napoleon Park, City Park, or Terrill Mill Park — or park downtown and ride to the river.
The Discovery Trail
Park in downtown Clinton, Iowa, near the U.S. 30 bridge and head up for a three-mile romp to what once was the village of Lyons on this leeve and floodplain trail. The first leg is filled with amenities — the Lumber Kings’ baseball stadium, a riverboat casino and the Showboat Theater. Note the many boats using the active marina. Then you’re off on a wide floodplain, with spurs leading to spots closer to the Mississippi. Stop after another bridge and note the authentic Dutch windmill across the river in Fulton, Ill. Soon it’s either turn back, head to refreshments in Lyons or continue on two more miles to the spectacular views of Eagle Point Park.
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