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Taking on the trail

Man hiking Rock River Trail to travel through Sauk Valley next week

An 87-year-old Korean War veteran is undergoing a 320-mile trek to become the first person to hike the Rock River Trail.

Lyle Lidholm, a Moline native from Watertown, Wisconsin, began walking the trail Sept. 1 from Theresa, Wisconsin, near the Horicon Marsh and has since hiked about 160 miles to his latest stop in Rockford.

The trail crosses through Wisconsin and Illinois, spanning 11 counties and 41 communities including Oregon, Dixon, Sterling and Rock Falls.

Lidholm walks about 6 miles a day working his way south to the Quad Cities, and he’s slated to go through the Sauk Valley area next week, likely Tuesday through Thursday, trail coordinator Therese Oldenburg said.

Lidholm is in need of “trail angels” to help him along the way, to provide rides to trail starting points.

He’s hoping to finish the journey by November near Moline and promote the trail for hiking, biking, paddling and driving.

“When I read about this several years ago, I thought, ‘Wow, a trail, all the way to my hometown, Moline,’” Lidholm said. “I’m not getting any younger, so I figured September and October would be nice. I’m kind of calling it my going-home hike.”

There’s no continuous stretch of off-road trail along the Rock River, so he’s been mapping out his own route, avoiding highways and seeking off-road trails.

It’s not his first or longest long-distance hike; he tackled more than 800 miles of the Appalachian Trail nearly 2 decades ago and journeyed the 1,200-mile Ice Age National Scenic Trail about 10 years ago.

Lidholm is a retired chef, builder and craftsman, and helped dismantle historic structures around Wisconsin in the 1970s to be rebuilt at Old World Wisconsin. He also served as a tank gunner in Korea.

The Rock River Trail Initiative established a 320-Mile Award to encourage exploration along the trail, given to those who reach the goal of doing the whole Rock River Trail, whether it’s hiking, biking, paddling or driving. The miles can be accumulated over any period of time, and can be broken up in any segments. Participants keep their own records and self-report their accomplishment to receive their award patch.

The trail begins near Horicon, Wisconsin, and ends where the Rock River flows into the Mississippi River in the Quad Cities.

It offers 11 different types of trail including a history trail, birding trail and a new craft brewery and wine trail.

Trail angels wanted

Contact trail coordinator Therese Oldenburg at or 608-931-6895 to help Lyle Lidholm on the trail by providing rides to trail starting points.

Explore the trail

Go to for more information on the Rock River Trail.

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