Black Hawk State Historic Site Trails
For a country girl, transplanted here to the city, this 208-acre park is a heavenly escape! The shady, winding, wooded paths are perfect for trail running! There are some challenging hills and even a few sets of stairs. The trail is packed dirt except for the occasional wooden footbridge or steps built into some of the hills. There are no bikes allowed on the trails. Dogs are allowed on a leash.
The address to the park is 1510 46th Ave (Black Hawk Road), Rock Island. The main parking lot near the museum/lodge can be accessed from Black Hawk Road (46th Ave.). There is another parking lot off Black Hawk Road near 24th street. There are additional parking lots off of 15th Street near Singing Bird Center.
The park is divided by Black Hawk Road with trails on both sides of the park, accessible on foot by a sky bridge so you don’t have to worry about crossing a busy street to see the entire park!
There are parking lots and public restrooms available on both sides of the park.
On the North side, near the parking lot, there is a large, open, grassy, area with picnic tables, a swing-set and lots of big, shade trees. On days when the trails are too muddy from rain, you could just run some loops around this neatly mowed area! At the far end of this big stretch is where you pick up the trailhead. It’s marked with a sign and a map of the trails. Occasionally there is a wedding set up on the lawn here. I have never actually arrived when a wedding was taking place but if so, it would be easy to choose an alternate route. There is another trailhead behind and just to the left of the Singing Bird Center with an adjacent parking lot. There are two parking lots on the South side of the park with trail access from both of those lots as well.
The trail system on the North side of the park is larger than the South side. Once you get a feel for the layout of the park you can create your own route that suits the distance you want to run and the level of challenge you want to create for yourself.
This hill is a real workout, and just when you think you’ve made it to the top…
The trail veers to the left and you realize you are only half way up! Your heart will be pounding when you get to the top! But no worries about overheating because the thick canopy of trees provides relief from the heat of the sun!
There are occasional wildflowers, a winding creek and scenic overlooks throughout the park. It really is a gorgeous place to run!
More often than not, I see some kind of wildlife on my run. As far as I know, the two in the photo above, were the only witnesses last Fall when I tripped over a tree root hidden under the leaves and fell flat on my face! They stood there, staring at me like I was the biggest doofus they’d ever seen! At least I got some good pics!
Most of the trails on the North side of the park are wide and well-worn with plenty of room for passing other people. I have occasionally spotted poison ivy along the way but it is easily avoidable if you stay on the beaten path.
The trails on the South side of the park probably only total a little more than one mile in length and are more narrow, off-camber and primitive than the North side. You’ll encounter steep steps, rocks, exposed tree roots, fallen limbs on the trail and sharp inclines, making this side a little more technical.
Make sure you stop running just long enough to take in all the rocky outcroppings on the hillside and the scenic views of the Rock River.
- Watch out for exposed tree roots, especially in the Fall when they are covered with leaves!
- Prepare for ticks, mosquitoes, and gnats in the woods during the hot summer months.
- Keep an eye out for wildlife!