Byron – Nuclear Power Plant Loop

(Described in reverse order)

Beginning at the Historic Oregon Depot, this loop takes you through Oregon and along the banks of the scenic Rock River to the nearby town of Byron, Illinois. It should be noted that the Rock River Trail is the newest member of the National Water Trails system…and is the only one with a triad of trails for kayakers, cyclists, and motor vehicles. The stretch through Ogle County is considered one of the most beautiful.

The Byron-Nuclear loop takes you north along Rte 2 which has a 10 foot wide concrete shoulder for ease of cycling. A short distance north of Oregon you will see the new IDOT boat landing for recreational water sports. Across the road is the entrance to Stronghold Castle, built as an authentic old world castle by Chicago Newspaper magnate Walter Strong. It is now a retreat center for the Presbyterian Church.

The remainder of the route to Byron holds scenic views of the Rock River and offers roadside pull-offs for fishing and picnicking. Byron itself has opportunities for shopping and refreshments. There is also the Historic Museum where you will learn that this was Albert Spaulding’s home town (yes, that Spaulding).

IMG_5322 byron loopAfter crossing the bridge over the Rock River the route travels past the Byron Forest Preserve – a nice side trip to enjoy first class interpretive displays of American Prairies as well as hikes through a restored grassland. Staying on the bike trail takes you up some challenging hills until you are above the valley floor. Soon you’ll be cruising on level roads through farmland as you approach the twin cooling towers of the nuclear plant. It is truly an impressive sight long remembered.

The remainder of the ride is reasonably level and returns you to the valley floor as you re-enter IMG_5333 byron loopOregon. The approach to town is quite beautiful with the courthouse tower rising above the city.   Just before the bridge, a turn north on River Road will take you to Park East and a restful view of the spillway and many fishermen.   Enjoy!

Recommended side trip:   If you were to go further north on Daysville Road just east of Oregon, you would encounter a daunting climb to the top of the bluff. A turn to the left on Park Rd. leads you to Lowden State Park overlooking the river valley. This is the site of the “Blackhawk” statue which the area is renowned for. From the overlook you can see the river below and the city laid out to the south; as well as the paddlewheel excursion boat across the river.   There are many good hiking trails and points of interest to enjoy at Lowden Park. It is also home to NIU’s outdoor education campus.

Rock River Trail:

Stronghold Castle:

Byron Museum:

Byron Forest Preserve:

Byron Nuclear Station:

Lowden State Park:



Turn left onto S 3rd St 0.1 mi
Turn right onto W Washington St 1.0 mi
Turn left onto N Daysville Rd 1.7 mi
Turn right onto E Brick Rd 2.2 mi
Turn left onto N German Church Rd 4.2 mi
Turn right to stay on N German Church Rd 8.7 mi
Continue straight onto IL-72 W 11.9 mi
Continue onto N Union St 12.2 mi
Turn left onto W 2nd St 12.3 mi
Continue straight onto N Fox Run Ln 13.3 mi
Turn right onto W Blackhawk Dr 13.3 mi
Turn right onto Fair St 22.4 mi
Turn left onto N 6th St 22.4 mi
Turn left onto Webster St 23.6 mi
Turn right onto S 5th St 23.7 mi
S 5th St turns left and becomes Collins St 24.0 mi

Screenshot 2015-09-06 18.46.24