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Hiking, Biking & Canoeing in Galena

Galena's open spaces offers a number of outdoor activities. The rolling hills and river bluffs are ideal for hiking and biking. The area's waterways are a respite for canoers and kayakers. While the many country roads provide an opportunity to explore the hidden valleys and rural country side of the Driftless Region.

Galena River Trail

This popular trail offers 8-miles (one way) of scenic hiking, biking or cross country skiing for users. The hard surfaced finely crushed rock trail is open to the public at no cost. The surface is best suited for mountain bikes and hybrids, but road bikes are frequently seen on the trail.

The 3.4-mile Galena Junction Trail segment and 2.1 mile Aiken Trail segment are favorites of many trail enthusiasts. From the junction, continue east along the foot of the bluffs for outstanding views of the Mississippi River backwaters. A spur trail to the Casper Bluff Reserve is located about 1.0-mile from the junction.

While the trail officially ends at the intersection with South River Road at Aiken, users may make a right turn and continue 2.6-miles on lightly traveled South River Road to the base of Chestnut Mountain Resort.

The Irish Cottage Boutique Hotel Trail

Directly behind The Irish Cottage Boutique Hotel sits 17 acres of trails and timber to explore. A 1.1-mile circular trail leads hikers throughout the hotel's very own "Valley of Glendalough." The trail is hilly and steep in places.

Apple River Canyon State Park

Limestone bluffs, deep ravines, springs, streams and wildlife are found in this beautiful state park. A scenic canyon area was formed by the action of the winding waters of the Apple River.

Blanding Landing

This 12-acre site is located just 13 miles south of Galena, near the Great River Trail and just north of the Lost Mound. Nestled along the backwaters of the Mississippi River, this area is a bird watcher's paradise with access to miles of great fishing.

Buehler Preserve

A mowed trail is kept around the perimeter of Buehler Preserve, a 25-acre property which features a hilly woodland (eastern portion) as well as a flood plain (western portion).

Casper Bluff Land and Water Reserve

This 85-acre site features views of the Mississippi River and its backwater sloughs.

Gateway Park

This 180-acre park preserves the iconic "first view" of Galena as seen from Hwy 20 when rounding "Horseshoe Mound". Beautiful scenic views of Galena, mowed hiking trails over rolling terrain and a rare grove of Kentucky Coffeetree.

Houseshoe Mound

One of the most scenic properties in all of northern Illinois, Horseshoe Mound features a view spanning three states. Hiking trails offer close views of the city of Galena and distant views of the Mississippi River, as well as Iowa and Wisconsin.

Main Street

For a slower pace, walk down historic Main Street in Galena. Meander through shops and art galleries. Pause to admire 19th century storefronts.

Mississippi Palisades State Park

Located near the point that the Mississippi and Apple rivers join to become one, this 2,500-acre park north of Savanna, Illinois, is known for its steep cliffs, beautiful trails and intriguing rock formations. Rich in American Indian history, the park has national landmark status.

Pathway on the Levee

Walk hand in hand during a quiet stroll on the 1/2-mile Pathway on the Levee. Located just east of the shopping district, the pathway is perched above the gentle waters of the Galena River.

Schurmeier Teaching Forest

This 52-acre property features an 11-acre teaching forest. A self-guided booklet is available at the kiosk and corresponds to signage along the trail. This rugged, hillside property is entirely wooded; however, the two miles of trails are suitable for beginner and intermediate hikers.

Wapello Land & Water Preserve

This 79-acre property is located along the Apple River just south of Hanover and is undergoing intense land prairie restoration. It has one of the state's premier archaeological sites containing significant artifacts from Woodland and Mississippi Indian cultures, dating back to 1,000 AD. A 1.8-mile hiking trail winds through fields of wildflowers and offers excellent views of the river valley.

Rental Equipment

Several area businesses specialize in outfitting outdoor enthusiasts. Bike, canoe, kayak, and paddle board rentals are available locally as well as guided and unguided trips.


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