The Galena River Trail is the perfect solution for those looking for a pleasant place to walk, run, bike, birdwatch, or otherwise get out into Galena’s great outdoors. The nearly 9 mile long scenic trail offers beautiful views along the Galena River and is just minutes from downtown.
The Galena area is home to numerous outdoor recreation opportunities. Few are as convenient and popular as the Galena River Trail.
The trail is built upon the old railbed of the now defunct Burlington Railroad main line, linking Galena with Galena Junction.
The trail is 8.8 miles (14.16 km) in length, one way, stretching from Buehler Preserve in Galena, down to Aiken. Hard surfaced in finely crushed rock, the trail is excellent for hiking, biking and even skiing come winter.
The trail leads through wetlands, past wooded meadows, and along the Mississippi, flanked by towering limestone bluffs. Despite this, it is also easily accessed from downtown Galena.
Exploring the Galena River Trail
The Galena River Trail Trailhead is located on the southwest side of US Highway 20 in downtown Galena. There is free parking under the US Highway 20 bridge. The trail features a variety of other access points as well, with free parking available at several of them, including Galena Recreation Park, Meeker Street at Field Street, and Aiken on South River Road.
Those looking for an easy, pleasant stroll will enjoy the Downtown Trail; a half mile (.804 km) walk north from the trailhead to Meeker Street. Here you’ll take in scenic views of the river and Main Street with lots of shopping and dining right nearby. Continue past Meeker Street bridge and you’ll arrive at lovely Buehler Preserve in under a mile (1.45 km).
Heading south, the Downtown Trail eventually links up with the Galena Junction Trail. This 3.4-mile (5.47 km) section threads through rolling hills to the banks of the Mississippi. The Galena Junction Trail is popular for bicycling and birdwatching with lots of wildlife along its length.
Serious hikers may continue along the river past Galena Junction on the the Aiken Trail for an additional 2.7 miles. The Aiken Trail leads past the Casper Bluff Reserve, home to Native American mounds and a thunderbird effigy.
Though the trail’s official ends at Aiken, some choose to continue south along South River Road to the base of Chestnut Mountain Resort. Refresh yourself with a scenic chairlift ride to The Summit Bar and Sunset Grille overlooking the Mississippi River.
Visit www.cityofgalena.org to learn more about the Galena River Trail.
Hawk Valley Retreat & Cottages is nestled on 10 secluded acres of meadows and gardens, just 8 miles east of downtown. Our Galena Bed and Breakfast offers three guest rooms in the main house and four private cottages. The grounds include a pond, walking trail, porch swing, gazebo, and a renovated barn available for rental or day events. Come soak up the history and friendly warmth of Galena at Hawk Valley Retreat & Cottages!