As a cyclist, I get bored riding through most of the midwest. But one big exception to this is the Great River Trail in Western Illinois. Beginning in Rock Island and ending in Savanna, the trail goes intermittently for 60 miles, offering a great view of the Mississippi. I’ve done it from both ways, and I prefer to start it from the Quad Cities and finish at its terminus in Savanna.
Pay a visit to the Bent River Brewery in downtown Moline. On my evening before my first day on the trail, I sat down and had a glass of their Uncommon Stout, or what I like to call black gold in a glass.
The southern half is the more interesting section, especially along the Quad Cities where it’s right by the river. After Fulton, it turns away from the river and detours on the main road. The stretch between Fulton and just south of Savanna is a boring one. It gets interesting near Savanna again where the path cuts through forests and marshes before ending in the town.
Savanna is a nice postcard town worth checking out. The whole area up there is pretty popular among bikers. Being the only dude with a bicycle up there, it felt like an episode out of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. Check out the biker bars for some good beer and red meat.
The town is just south of the Palisades State Park, a large section of bluffs along the river with hiking, camping and boating options. On my trip, I turned eastward from Savanna and made a push for Rockford. At some point I want to come back and set up camp in this area. Then again, it’s just another thing on a huge list of places where I feel like going. That’s a good problem to have.