Ride 4: Ride the Rock
Biking Illinois: 60 Great Road Trips and Trail Rides
Rockford, IL August 3, 2005
(Note that the photos here are in the order I took them, which differs from the route as described in the book.)
After riding the Long Prairie Trail in the morning, I was ready for a shorter ride in the afternoon. The various bike paths along the Rock River in Rockford fit the bill perfectly. This is one of the shortest rides in the book, but it packs a lot of scenery into a small space. I started the ride at Charles Martin Park just south of Riverside Boulevard. While Riverside was easy to find (there's an exit from the Northwest Tollway), I had to zigzag to find my way to the park. That was one of several reasons for moving the start to Sportscore Park further north. On this warm summer afternoon, the parking lot was full of pick-up trucks with boat trailers. Geese laid claim to the path.
I rode south, alternating between short bike paths through the parks and on-street segments lasting for several blocks.
Finally at Illinois Street Park, the path became continuous to the end. Ahead lies the sculpture section of the trail. The second is called Symbol.
As you can see, geese are plentiful.
My favorite public art on the the path is easily the Rock Guardians of Rockford. These massive statues remind me of something out of a movie.
The path has a guardrail where it runs beside the Rock River.
There are some beautiful homes on the west bank of the river.
Just beyond the ramp leading over the river on Whitman Street, the path goes under the bridge and peters out. I turned back and rode across the river, but there wasn't a path on the west side.
I decided the ride was long enough and turned back. On the return trip, I took pictures of the Sinnissippi Gardens.
Once I got back to Charles Martin Park, I decided the ride was too short. I rode up to and over the bike bridge beside Riverside Blvd. to the west side of the river. At the stop light I crossed the busy road and turned back toward the river. This was exactly what I was looking for, a scenic, fun to ride, less crowded section of trail that contrasts nicely with the leg on the eastern side. The path continues north into Sportscore One Park, but I decided the first parking lot would be a good starting point.
On the way back to my car at Charles Martin Park, I had to stop for a passing train. That's why I made a note of the tracks being active in the book.
The climb up to Riverside Boulevard on the path is steep with poor visibility. At Riverside, a sign directs riders to cross at the stoplight.
The bridge beside Riverside Boulevard is downhill toward the east.
The bridge has two turnouts where you can stop to enjoy the view. Charles Martin Park is across the river to the right.
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