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Illinois--Stagecoach Trail


Date: Wednesday, 25. March 2009

State map If you live in the Chicagoland area, a popular day trip is to Illinois' second largest city, Rockford. But if you want some truly scenic roads and an unique and quaint destination town, head west from Rockford to Galena, near the Mississippi River. Take U.S. 20 west from Rockford through Freeport, where you can see the spot of the famous second Lincoln-Douglas debate at Taylor Park. Continue west on U.S. 20 to Rte. 73. Take Rte. 73 north one mile into the town of Lena, where you must stop at Lena's Drive-In for the best soft-serve ice cream you've ever eaten.

Heading west out of Lena is the Historic Stagecoach Trail, marked along the route with Historic Trail signs. Now you're on one of the most scenic 40 miles of road in the whole state. The normally flat topography of Illinois changes into beautiful lush rolling hills, with farmhouses and barns that look like a scene from the 1850s. You will pass through small, sleepy, all-American towns with names like Waddams Grove, Apple River, and Scales Mound. The winding two-lane road, with tight turns and switchbacks is ideal for enthusiastic top-down sports car driving, or better yet, in the saddle of a nimble motorcycle.

The end of the trail takes you right to the top of Main Street in historic Galena, where 85 percent of the town is included in the national Register of Historic Places. There you can tour the home of President Ulysses S. Grant, go wine tasting at the Galena Cellars Winery, or browse the quaint Main Street shops featuring antiques, crafts, and unique art galleries and eateries. If you are a golfer, stay at the Eagle Ridge Inn and Resort, where you can choose from three outstanding golf courses and a host of luxury amenities.

Starting Point:
Rockford, IL

Distance of Drive:
87 miles

Must Eat:
Lena Drive-In
304 N. Freedom St., Lena, IL 61048
Call ahead to confirm hours of operation.

Best Time of Year for Drive:
Spring to fall

Points of Interest on Drive:
Home of President Ulysses S. Grant

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At one time, I'm sure this was a beautiful route...Now, the view in the first 10 miles is ruined by windmills. US 20 is a much better route now unmarred by those ugly things.


This strip of road is actually everything the description says. For those traveling from Chicago to Galena this route provides a great break from the same old road that we take every time. There are some great restaurants and wonderful little shops along the way. And it doesn't add any more time to the trip (unless you stop, of course)

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