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River Trail great place to start

Dispatch/Argus Photo By John J. Kim

The Great River Trail Bike Path runs along the Mississippi River through Moline, East Moline, Hampton, up to Savannah.

For Quad-Citians who want to enjoy nature, a path always is nearby.

Stretching along the Illinois side of the Mississippi River are more than 60 miles of trails for biking, hiking, walking and running. Moline's Rock River banks are the site of a second trail system, the Kiwanis Trail.

In the Iowa Quad-Cities, bicycle paths along Duck Creek in Davenport and Bettendorf are a similar avenue to fun.

One of the foremost links in the area's bike path network is the Great River Trail, which stretches nearly 65 miles from Rock Island's Sunset Park to the Mississippi Palisades Park north of Savanna.

The trail, scheduled to be completed in September, connects nearly 50 parks, gardens, playgrounds and picnic areas.

Great River Trail Council president Vern Geilow said only scattered sections of the trail remain uncompleted in Rock Island County.

Construction is expected to begin this spring on the $796,265 leg between Hampton, Rapids City and Port Byron, with Rock Island County expected to let bids later this year for its eight remaining trail sections. Moline and Rock Island also are scheduled to complete work on their trail sections in 1998.

``Optimistically, I would like to think we will have the grand opening of the Rock Island and Whiteside County portions this year,'' Mr. Geilow said. Although inclement weather this spring or summer could delay construction, he said.

Planning for the Great River Trail began in August 1987, and involved intergovernmental agreements between 11 communities, five townships, three counties, and state and federal governmental agencies.

In addition to serving as a tourism attraction to the region, Great River will provide local residents a new recreational area, Mr. Geilow predicted.

``The other use, that people don't talk about much, is when people aren't using it at night it becomes a great conduit for animals,'' he said. ``It runs along the river for most of its length, so it will help in conservation efforts for wildlife.''

The biggest impact of the Great River Trail may be the other recreational development it makes possible, Mr. Geilow said. ``It is not alone,'' he said. ``The Great River Trail is also what it makes possible.''

The trail is a major link in the Grand Illinois Trail, a proposed 500-mile loop from the Quad-Cities to Chicago's Navy Pier. Targeted for completion by 2000, the trail will link the Quad-Cities, Galena, Rockford and Chicago.

The region also is being considered as a destination along the proposed American Discovery Trail, which would stretch 6,000 miles connecting California and Delaware, Mr. Gielow said.

``It's all a big part of the overall scheme of things,'' he said. ``The Quad-Cities will be the hub of some major recreational trails.''

-- By Rebecca Morris (January 22, 1998)

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