The Rock River Trail continues to expand and enhance visitor experiences in 2019

The Rock River Trail Initiative Council is comprised of individuals and organizations from along the trail that meet regularly to look for innovative ways to encourage people to explore the river and its communities. Established in 2010, the trail offers 320 miles of beautiful river to discover, starting in Horicon, Wisconsin at the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge and ending where the Rock River flows into the Mississippi River in Rock Island, Illinois. It crosses through Wisconsin and Illinois and travels through 11 counties and encompasses 41 communities.

We have worked over the last eight years to improve river access and dam safety, and have installed signage along the route for portages, paddling launches, biking and driving.  It is recognized as a National Water Trail by the National Park Service.

In April 2018 we distributed 10,000 oak saplings to communities along the river and will also do so in 2019.  Over the last 8 years Chad Pregracke, president of Living Lands and Waters’ One Million Trees program, has donated over 75,000 oak saplings to the Rock River Trail Initiative and our watershed. We also continue to support the Rock River Clean Sweep each year, although persistent flooding prevented most communities from participating in 2018.

You’ll find more than water along the Rock River Trail

The Rock River Trail is so much more than a water trail, as it offers many ways to experience and discover the Rock River and its river communities. In 2018 we added a Birding Trail that gives inside tips on the birding hotspots along the Rock River corridor.

New initiatives for 2019

  • Launch and Market a 3 Minute Promotional Video that is produced by renowned photographer Nels Akerlund which highlights the experiences people can enjoy along the trail.
  • Begin discussions with the board of Nature At The Confluence environmental center in South Beloit to have it host a Rock River Trail Information Center. The center is strategically located at the half-way point of the Rock River Trail on the state line.
  • Add a Beer and Wine Trail to enhance the visitor experience and be a catalyst for new visits along the trail.
  • Create a new rack card highlighting all elements of the trail that will be made available at Convention and Visitor Bureaus, Chambers, outfitters, special events, etc.

320-Mile Award

The Rock River Trail Initiative established a 320-Mile Award for individuals who reach the goal of doing the whole 320 miles of the trail. In 2018 we gave out our first awards to 2 bicyclists and a pilot that completed the trail, and we’ve awarded nineteen 320-Mile Awards since it was established 3 years ago.

Head Out On The Rock River Trail!

You’ll find everything you’ll need to know about the Rock River Trail on the website, Detailed trail maps, community links, tips and a calendar of events can all be found on the website. For more information email