Q: Where can I cross country ski or snowshoe within driving distance of Galena?
A: Maps and brochures are available at Fever River Outfitters on 525 S Main Street in Galena, IL.
Galena River Trail South – Start at the trail head located next to the Galena Boat Landing, and take the trail south for about ½ mile. Just before the ½ mile mark the trail merges into a road. This road is considered a portion of the trail. It’s not a rough road, but is an access road for the residents who live along the road. They are the only ones allowed to access it by vehicle. The road is shoveled during the winter; however you might be able to ski along the side of the road. If not, be patient, take off your skis and walk ½ mile to where the road ends and the rest of the unshoveled trail resumes. Getting to enjoy the beauty of this part of the trail is well worth the walk (trust me on this). It’s a beautiful tree lined trail which runs very close to the Galena River. Pack a light lunch or snack and take a break just prior to the 2 mile mark in the new picnic shelter. The trail has distance markers every half mile.
Galena River Trail North/Beuhler Preserve – Start at the Galena Visitor’s Center. The trail head is just across the street and runs north adjacent to the Galena River. About a ½ mile up the trail you’ll meet the Galena River footbridge. Continue north on the levy (high ground) and follow for another .75 mi, where you’ll run right into the Beuhler Preserve. Make a loop round the preserve and head back to where you started for about a 3 mile trip.
Casper Bluffs is located 5 miles southeast of Galena on your way to Chestnut Mountain via Pilot Knob road. This newly acquired public preserve offers spectacular views of the Mississippi River, and is a wonderful bird watching area. Cut your own trails through forests and meadows. Enjoy several miles of great nature hiking. No trail maps are available yet, however this area is easy enough to navigate without a map.
Places to Snowshoe or Cross Country Ski within Driving Distance from Galena Driving Directions from Galena:
Mines of Spain (Dubuque, IA): Take US20 West towards Dubuque, IA. At first set of stop lights after crossing the Mississippi Bridge, turn onto US 52/61/151 South. Exit Grandview Ave (approx 1mile) Follow park signs. Total distance approx 18 miles. http://www.minesofspain.org/
Heritage Trail (Dubuque, IA): Take US20 to Dubuque. At first set of stop lights after crossing the Mississippi Bridge, turn onto US 52 North. Follow 52 to the north edge of town Heritage Trail is located 3 miles north of Dubuque on 52. Total distance approx 20 miles.
Mississippi Palisades (Savannah, IL): Take US20 East. About 11 miles East of Galena turn south on Route 84. The park is on Route84 about 16 miles from Route 20. Total distance approx 26 miles.
Swiss Valley Nature Trails (Dubuque, IA): Take US20 West towards Dubuque, IA. At first set of stop lights after crossing the Mississippi Bridge, turn onto US 52/61/151 South, follow 61 to . Exit onto US151-S. Turn Right on Military Rd. Turn Left on Swiss Valley Rd. http://www.dubuquecounty.org/Conservation/SwissValleyPark/tabid/59/Default.aspx
Q: What should I wear cross country skiing or snowshoeing?
A: Dress for the weather in comfortable clothing. You’re going to be more comfortable in some athletic pants (preferably made of windproof fabric) than you are in jeans, although jeans will pass. If you must wear jeans, a layer of long underwear is recommended to help keep you warmer. On your top half, a lightweight base layer under a thicker fleece layer and an outer windproof jacket (3 layers) is the best way to go. We call this “layering” and it’s practical for outdoor sports, for as you move around and warm up you’re able to remove a layer and still stay comfortable. To keep your tootsies toasty, Merino wool socks are the best. Merino wool is soft, warm, and is a natural breathable fiber. And finally, don’t forget some warm hiking boots, hat, and gloves. Gaiters are preferred to wear over your ankles and calves. The purpose of Gaiters is to keep the snow from getting up under your pants and into your socks and shoes. All of these products may be purchased at Fever River Outfitters.
Q: If I've never cross country skied or snowshoed, does the rental include a lesson?
A: The rental does not include a lesson; however lessons are available for $10 with a rental reservation. Lessons without rentals are $30 person. Below is a list of recommended reading. Snowshoeing is so easy it doesn’t really require a lesson. If you can walk, you can snowshoe, because it’s simply walking. It may be a little awkward at first, but it becomes easier as you go along. Fever River Outfitters does offer cross country ski clinics, as well as group cross country ski and snowshoe hikes on specific dates. Free consultation is offered by our guides at any of these events. See our calendar of events at http://www.feverriveroutfitters.com/events.
Snowshoeing from Novice to Master by Gene Prater
The Essential Cross - Country Skier, A Step-by-Step Guide by Paul Petersen & Richard Lovett
Q: How do I know what size skis or snowshoes to rent?