I had not heard about Atwood Park until recent years when the Silent Sports Trail Initiative started gathering steam. The park existed to the locals and to those who served there while it was Camp Grant, but to the rest of us, the park just flew under the radar. As a mountain biker in Illinois I gave up looking at maps. Green areas usually translated to “for hikers or equestrian use only”, so why bother. I do have the Rock Cut trails to ride, and I don’t want to detract from all they do, but I ride there a lot, and with no winter biking to spread out my frequency of visits, the trails become a bit routine.
Thanks however, to a large group of folks that include; volunteers, donators, and the Rockford Park District, Illinois mountain bikers finally have something to celebrate and feel respected for. The park is super close to breaking ground on the Silent Sports Trail Initiative. As I write this they are only $74,000 short of the $464,000 needed to complete phase 1.
Rockford Park District describes the initiative as- Project highlights include 20 miles of purposeful and sustainable single-use and multi-use trails with minimal intersections and proper signage; split into six zones on both the north and south sides of the river. The multi-use trails will introduce new hikers, bikers, and cross country skiers to the natural beauty of Atwood, and provide the opportunity to incorporate biking into summer camp and residential education programming. Upgrades to the river trails will also improve river views, and make them safer for night hikes.
Please consider donating if you are as eager to ride these trails as I am. Simply click the link and scroll down to Atwood Silent Sports. Every dollar counts.
Atwood’s History (continued reading)-
When I asked my friend about Atwood, and why I had not heard of this place, he said the park has become kinda rundown due to lack of use. Instead of being used by responsible, nature loving, outdoorsy folk; it had become a hangout for vagrants and such. I’m going to venture out on a limb and assume the park had gotten to a do or die stage of its life. The park needed more traffic from people who would not only use the park but also do their part to care for it. So, thanks to a lot of hard work, we are near the advent of something great.
Atwood Park is 334 acres of woodland, prairie, river and marsh habitat. It is also home to the popular Birds Of Prey program since 1988. The current exhibit contains a great horned owl, a turkey vulture, a red-tailed hawk, a barred owl, and a bald eagle. All of the birds located within the exhibit are unable to survive in the wild due to previous injuries or impairments, and are used as aids in the Rockford Park District’s strong environmental message to preserve and enhance natural habitat. -Atwood Park Website
The Park is located within the site of the former Camp Grant that was operational for both World Wars – during WWI as a training center and during WWII as an induction center. Atwood is located on the area that was formerly the artillery range. There are still numerous accessible structures within the park, including trench bunkers and a target pit. 2017 marks the 100 year anniversary of the first soldiers arriving for training at Camp Grant. – Rockford Library Archives
Finally- We should all thank the Atwood family. Without their generous land donations, and long history with Rockford, it is difficult to say this project would even be happening.
-Rockford Public Library Archives