The Galena River Trail
The Galena River Trail, a part of the Grand Illinois Trail, is 3.5 miles one way of natural beauty of Galena for you to enjoy. Although the beginning of the trail has been extended and can be started near the Queen Anne Guest House Bed and Breakfast, the official trail head is located immediately south of the U.S. Route 20 bridge over the Galena River. To access the trail head, turn north onto Park Avenue from the east end of the U.S. Route 20 bridge. Turn left after two blocks onto Bouthillier St. and continue over the railroad tracks into the Old Depot parking lot. The trail head is located at the southeast end of the parking lot underneath the U. S. Route 20 bridge.
The new trail extension begins at the U.S. Route 20 bridge through the Recreation Park and makes a 1.1 mile loop through Buehler Preserve natural prairie habitat. This area is owned and maintained by the Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation. The Buehler Preserve has picnic tables, benches, a bike rack and interpretive signs.
The trail is open year round from dawn to dusk except for the weekend before and after Thanksgiving when it closes for safety reasons due to shotgun hunting season. Hiking, running, bicycling, cross country skiing and snowshoeing are all allowed on the trail. The trail is 3.5 miles one way with mile markers placed at 0.5 mile intervals along the trail. Picnic tables are provided at the beginning, end and near the 2 mile marker with benches located along the trail as well.
The beginning of the trail crosses underneath the Canadian National Railroad through an underpass. There is a wetland to the east of the trail just south of the railroad underpass. Futher down the trail crosses Davis Creek before becoming a shared vehicle and pedestrian trail for one mile. Though lightly traveled by cars, please watch for passing vehicles and yield to the right to allow the vehicles to safely pass.
In the next 1.5 to 2.0 miles, the original stone foundation of the old Riplinger house is found just off the west side of the trail. There is a bend in the Galena River named after Riplinger located immediately south of the foundation. Picnic tables can be found just before the 2.0 mile marker.
Limestone cliffs are found along the south half of the trail and just before the end of the trail. In the spring, several species of wildflowers grow along the cliff areas. Near the 3.0 mile marker are two steep, old railroad cuts where you can see several colonies of scouring rush, a prehistoric grass-like fern that was planted for erosion control when the railroad cuts were installed.
The trail currently ends at the Burlington Railroad lines and the location of the old Galena Junction. The backwaters of the Mississippi River U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuge begin immediately south of the railroad lines. By mid 2012, the trail will be extended from the Galena Junction to South River Road to Chestnut Mountain Resort. This area will be near the 85 acre Casper Bluff which is also owned by the Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation. There will be a foot path that will lead to ancient Indian burial mounds.
We as Innkeepers of the Queen Anne Guest House have greatly enjoyed walking and riding our bikes on the Galena River Trail. We have seen an abundance of wildlife on the trail such as deer, squirrels, turtles, ducks, an occassional baby snake, a mink and even a coyote.
All information for the article has been taken from a brochure from the Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation which is dedicated to conserving the natural heritage, spectacular scenery and agricultural heritage of the Jo Daviess County, IL. area.