There are many access points along this section of the Rock River National Water Trail*; please see the above map for their locations.
* The National Water Trails System is a distinctive national network of exemplary water trails that are cooperatively supported and sustained. The National Park Service is the primary administrator that works in partnership with local management of the designated water trails.
This segment of the Rock River National Water Trail begins at the Glen Miller Marina (Erie Boat Ramp). It is 19 miles between here and the next access point at the Cleveland Boat Ramp, making this first part of the trail more challenging by its length than other sections. The scenery is rural, the river wide and much of the shoreline undeveloped, with islands common in the Hillsdale area. A state historical marker commemorating an event in the Black Hawk War is located on the Hurd Road Bridge over the river. There is an undesignated access site that could be used as an intermediate rest area at the IL-92 Bridge, 11 miles downstream of Erie and 8 miles from the Cleveland Boat Ramp.
Less than a mile downstream of the Cleveland Boat Ramp and just before the I-80 Bridge is Lundeen’s Landing in Barstow on river right, a privately-owned campground with a store and launch facilities. Five miles further down river the Hennepin Canal joins the Rock at lock number 29 on river left. The City of Colona has a park and boat launch facility at lock 29 and paddlers can use the launch for take-out, as a rest stop or to paddle a ways on the Hennepin. About a quarter mile from Hennepin Canal Lock 29 the Green River enters the Rock on river left.
The river environment continues as rural landscape with little development for the next 4 miles to Green Valley Park on river right at Moline. After Green Valley, the landscape of this segment changes quickly to urban within the Quad Cities metropolitan area. Care should be exercised when approaching Ben Williamson Park as the local water ski club, the Backwater Gamblers, uses the park access for practice and shows.
Safety considerations mean that paddlers should approach the Milan Steel Dam on river left soon after passing Ben Williamson Park. Traveling river right to the Sears Dam should be avoided; safe portage of that dam is not available. Take out before the Steel Dam at Hennepin Canal Lock 30. Put in at a safe distance below the dam in the tailwater or paddle the Hennepin for a ways before crossing the canal bank to the river. Near the end of Vandruff Island a series of mild rapids occur in the location of the US-67 Bridge. On the bluffs at river right is the Black Hawk State Historic Site on land that was Saukenuk, the main village of the Sauk Nation.
The last 3 miles before the Mississippi River are rural in landscape. Continue on the water trail to river right and look for the Pettifer Slough that connects the river with Lake Potter and Sunset Park and Marina. Alternatively, paddle to the Mississippi and head upstream on river right to Sunset Park. From Sunset Park trailhead the traveler can enjoy the many recreational, cultural and historical interests in the river communities of the Quad Cities area.
This paddling route is part of the larger Rock River Water Trail, a delineated path on the 320-mile Rock River that connects access sites, resting places and attractions for users of water craft. The trail enhances public use of the river for recreation with wayfinding and amenities such as restrooms, shelter, parking and camping. While the water trail is primarily designed for use by paddle craft, it also provides significant recreational value to those who enjoy swimming, fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing, pleasure boating and river stewardship.
The Rock River Trail is a system of recreational trails on and along the Rock River that goes through 11 counties in Wisconsin and Illinois. This QC Trails featured trail is part of that network. The Rock River Trail was established in 2010 to promote recreational use and appreciation of all 320 miles of the Rock River. Visit the trail online to learn more about how to hike, bike, paddle, horseback ride, drive, fly, or appreciate history, art, or chocolate along the trail!