Sections of the trail that travel through city parks are open dawn to dusk.
This path consists of several segments of paved pedestrian paths and roads through quiet neighborhoods. The original segment was constructed in 1976 as part of America's bicentennial celebration. There are many parks and green spaces along the way that offer many opportunities to stop, rest, or have a picnic.
The trail begins in downtown Rockford at Davis Park. Travel north along the riverfront, past the Rockford Public Library, until the trail turns right. You'll find a pedestrian bridge suspended on the underside of the Jefferson Street vehicle bridge. Take this pedestrian bridge across the river and turn north again. You'll be at the Riverview Ice House.
Here, the trail converts from a paved pedestrian path to a concrete sidewalk along N. Madison Street for about half a mile. The trail becomes a paved pedestrian-only path at the Whitman Street bridge. Be sure to stop and check out the Nicolas Conservatory and Gardens on this segment.
After about 1.75 miles, the pedestrian path ends, and the trail continues on through a series of neighborhood streets with light traffic. A few turns about 0.75 miles will bring you back to the pedestrian path, which winds through Shorewood Park for about another 0.5 miles.
After Shorewood Park, the pedestrian trail ends again, and the trail continues north along East Drive for 0.5 miles. Turn at the first left, which is River Lane, to get back on the pedestrian path as it travels through Martin Park. At the north end of Martin Park, the path crosses the river on the Riverside Boulevard bridge. Continue until you get to the first traffic light after the river. Here, cross Riverside Boulevard and continue north, first descending through a couple of switchbacks.
The path continues along through a forested area for about a mile before entering the Sportscore Park. Continue to follow the river, being mindful of families at the park for soccer and baseball games, following the directional signs for another 2.3 miles until you reach the Harlem Road vehicle bridge.
Here, you can take the connecting trail north, going under the Harlem Road bridge, to explore Headquarters Forest Preserve. If you want to continue on the path, head east by crossing the Harlem Road Bridge. Switchback under the bridge after crossing the river and continue east until you reach the first intersection.
At Victory Lane, the pedestrian path ends again, and the trail continues north along the Victory Lane sidewalk for 0.6 miles. The trail becomes a pedestrian path again at the intersection of Victory Lane and Roosevelt Lane. Turn right here, continue past the Machesney Park Mall, past the Harlem Community Center, until you reach Scott Lane. The trail ends here.