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Kilbuck Bluffs Forest Preserve by Brandon Lundberg

Entrance on 3061 South bend Road, Rockford, IL

A nice hike to the Kilbuck Creek underneath the old train bridge.

Kilbuck Bluffs Forest Preserve is 224 acres of beautiful landscape that holds habitat for many different kinds of wildlife. The trail through the woods starts off the side of the road and leads to the old train bridge with the Kilbuck Creek running beneath it. To get to this trail you would have to drive towards the back of the preserve skipping the two parking lots and when you come up to where the road begins to curve left towards the rear of the preserve there will be an area to pull off the side of the road to park about the size of 3-4 cars. Once you park there on the same side of the road there will be some concrete stones on the ground around where the trail starts and you will see the trail to the right of the stones. Start walking down that trail, it won’t be too hard to stay on the trail, and when you will be coming up on the train bridge there will be a split in the trails. One of the trails will lead right down to the river and the other towards the bridge and either of these will work. Once you get to that split in the trail you will be able to find your way to beneath the train bridge no matter the direction. When you get beneath the bridge you will have met your destination and it can then become your decision on what to do after that. This spot is a favorite of mine to go to because it is peaceful with the creek and the sounds of the woods and because it’s a great place to fish.

This trail is not a long trail and, while I am not 100% positive of the distance, I know that it’s no longer than a tenth of a mile, but probably even shorter. While it is a short trail do not let it fool you into thinking it is an easy trail. There are a lot of dips and hills in the trail and debris always laying on the trail. At times the terrain can have unstable areas too. During the early spring and fall the brush is very open and you can see through the woods very well. The brush is open enough that you can see the train bridge from the road, which would help you find your way easily if you hiked the trail during these times. During the summer when the brush is full of lushness and really thick it can become a hard trail to hike because of all the brush in the way and the limited visibility. During the times of year when the brush isn’t thick the trail rating would be a 6-7.5 out of 10 and during the summer when the brush is at its thickest the hike becomes a 9-10 out of 10. The reason for this is because it is a dirt trail from being walked on a lot and has debris like sticks and rocks, unstable footing in some cases, and is not even with all the dips and hills. While on this hike you will see beautiful woodlands that house many animals that you may see along the way making the hike very enjoyable. Then when you come up on the river it can be a very nice place to relax, especially if you have a fishing pole to fish before continuing the hike or returning back to where you started. A point of interest during the hike can be the train bridge because this area used to be old Camp Grant land and on the train bridge you will notice a platform up underneath the bridge that leads across the creek. I advise that no one should go on the bridge or up underneath it since it is illegal. I found this to be interesting because it is history and it makes me think back to what it could have been used for and because there is very old graffiti up underneath the bridge showing that it could have been years since the last person had been up there.

While out here I do suggest that you go and explore other trails because there are many great trails that the preserve has to offer, there is a reason this is one of my favorite preserves. The terrain is not the same in every part of the preserve either. There will be trails that also go through more open woods, tall grass land and short grass land. If you were to go back out on the main road that the preserve is located off of (Baxter Rd) and turn left on the road then a few hundred or so feet up the road on the right there is another smaller area of the preserve. In this part of the preserve there isn’t that much preserve but it is more laid back and more open for if you want to relax and enjoy the scenery. The Kilbuck Creek also runs through this part of the preserve too.