Sylvan Island Trails

I recently made my first visit to Sylvan Island Trails in Moline and it is definitely worth checking out if you haven’t already.  What it lacks in size, it makes up for in unique features and amenities!  The trails wind around the remains of an old steel mill.  From metal art sculptures to historic dams and old industrial ruins, I found myself anticipating every turn of the trail, wondering what I would see next!  The trails are open to mountain bikers, runners, and hikers.  Dogs are allowed on a leash.


Sylvan Island is on the Mississippi River, located on the border of Rock Island and Moline, along the route of the Great River Trail.  Parking is available at the Sylvan Gateway Park, 101 1st Ave., Moline, with access to the island trails via a footbridge.

Trail Information

This island is an abandoned industrial site turned into a little nature park.  It was closed several years ago because the bridge had become unsafe.  The new bridge was reopened at the end of last year and some hard work was put into restoring the trails.  You’ll find every type of trail surface from dirt to gravel to moss-covered brick and plenty of shade! There are several scenic viewing areas for photo ops and river access from the trails if you want to do some fishing.  The island is also accessible by boat from Sylvan Slough.  There is an informational kiosk just as you enter from the bridge and picnic tables and resting benches scattered along the trails.  There are public restrooms available at the Sylvan Island Gateway park.

There is literally a maze of trails crossing the island, some of them are marked with these steel, fish-shaped signs so you can find your way.  When you enter the island from the bridge you can turn right or left on a trail that pretty much just runs along the river, all the way around the island.  From that trail, you can take other trails that criss-cross through the center.


It was pretty humid the day I was there and I almost felt like I was on some tropical island. I kept an eye out for Skipper and Gilligan!

I caught a glimpse of a rowing team cruising past the island, their coach was barking orders to them over a bullhorn!

Along the trail, you’ll occasionally see the somewhat eerie remains of an old steel mill.  In fact, you might want to bring your slime blaster with you because rumor has it, the island is one of the most haunted places in the Quad Cities!

I didn’t see any ghosts but get a load of this tree!  Compare it to the trees in the background to get an idea of how big it is.  This thing must be centuries old!  Probably older than this bridge:


  • There is a lot to see here but keep an eye on the trail because the terrain is always changing.
  • If you run early in the morning, chances are you will take a spiderweb to the face!  Ah, nature’s hairnets 😧
  • Take your trash and water bottles out with you when you leave.  There are garbage cans in the parking lot at Sylvan Gateway Park.