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Explore the best rated trails in Iowa City, IA, whether you're looking for an easy walking trail or a bike trail like the Old Creamery Nature Trail and Boyson Trail . With more than 43 trails covering 4099 miles you're bound to find a perfect trail for you. Click on any trail below to find trail descriptions, trail maps, photos, and reviews.
I've run on the Old Creamery Nature Trail several dozen times per year for over a decade. As trails go it is well kept, and was even resurfaced a few years ago. When there has been a lot of rain, or after a winter thaw, there can be some muddy areas but those tend to be minimal and are not very common. The Vinton side of the trail is usually in slightly better condition than the Dysart side. Both the Vinton and Dysart ends of the trail are bounded by open farmland. The middle section of the trail for miles on either side of Garrison is mostly wooded and usually provides a chance to spot some wildlife. I've frequently seen eagle, owl, hawk, pheasant, turkey, deer, fox, groundhog, possum, raccoon, coyote and occasionally even a person or two. My experience is that the section from Vinton to Garrison will have a few people on it about half of the time when the weather is nice, but Dysart to Garrison sees almost no traffic so it presents an ideal opportunity for solitude if you are so inclined.
We just returned from our week-end-a day early. Yes chilly weather was a factor but even more to the point, the trail was a Huge disappointment. We had decided to drive to south end and eye the conditions that rec'd mostly negative comments. We never even unloaded our bikes! The trail is basically not maintained, often runs right along OR on the highway for the majority of its 62 miles. The straight, unimaginative paths are not only boring but neglected to the pt of being dangerous - often far from the Mississippi River. Where did trail get it's name from?! Illinois once again leaves the user in the dust - or should I say weeds. We were left w/ a very negative impression, leading to our distrust of both the IL trail system as well as Rails to Trails reviews. It was obvious this trail was quickly laid out to meet some timeline set by a non-biking administrators. We counted two (!) people using trail in over the 60+ miles we covered from car. THAT should say it all!
We feel strongly that reviewers on Trail Link need to be more direct with readers. Polite and tolerant reviews are as much a disservice to the bikers as the abominable trail itself!
This was a fun trail to ride. Almost 100% concrete, flat and fast. It’s a nice mix of woods, town and suburbs and some industrial areas.
Pros: Excellent condition, smooth concrete; has a few key things to see; On north end you can travel safely 2 blocks off trail to Red’s Ale House for a nice bite in nice setting. Cons: entire north end from the Waterplant Prairie Park runs along Dubuque Street (very busy) and crosses several intersections. It is a one and done for me, but if you are local, it would be a good “go to” trail.
Road from Rock Island to Port Bryan and it was really nice and paved. Read reviews as this is a long trail with mixed surfaces. But we got 40 miles in our route an enjoyed. There’s a holiday inn in Rock Island 2 blocks form a trail head. Really good food wit Distance hin walking do
Sunset Park is lovely, great for picnic. The trail is pretty rough. It is mostly asphalt and has a lot of cracks that have not been maintained. A couple of short bridges with wood roadbed have been repaired with sheets of 3/4 inch plywood. Signage is pretty good. We would have gone on past Moline except for the condition of the surface.
I started at the Corps of Engineers park just outside of Thomson, il. Starts out beautiful riding among pine tree. Then transitions to a treeless sand prairie paved with smooth blacktop. Virtually no shade in this area. The trail dwindles away into a blacktop road that deteriorates more and more every 100 yards or so. Just before reaching the road to the lock and dam I decided I'm not enjoying this so I turned back to ward Thomson where my car was parked. I'm perfectly willing to pay the $5 fee to ride trails in Wisconsin or Iowa.
However I will say the Great River trail is outstanding from Savanna to the Fish & Wildlife facility 4 miles South of Savanna.
First time walking this trail. It's a good trail with pretty views. Will be walking it again.
This trail is a great resource for Eastern and Northeastern Iowa. Overall nice trail. There are some places that could use a bit more crushed limestone around Urbana. Bridge in LaPorte City opened back up in 2020 (be sure to stop at Tootsie's).
Ben Butterworth Park. Moline, is a great place to park and start a ride. At 8+ miles later you will find yourself at the trails end, Sunset Marina, Rock Island. It was a fun solo ride on a nice sunny day, wind was a bit more than I like but kept me cool.
This was a very peaceful walk on a hot afternoon. Well shaded with trees. Very enjoyable.
This review is based upon my previous two experiences of riding this trail, once in August 2022 and the other just recently in June 2023. I like that the trail is about 15 miles in length. The trail is crushed limestone, mostly compacted, but there are some areas where the gravel is a little loose. For the most part, the trail is pretty decent. There are very slight inclines in places; however, the trail is mostly flat. Crossings over gravel roads and other right of ways through the the trail are fairly well marked. I did not encounter a lot of other traffic on the trail over the course of the multiple times I rode the stretch from Vinton to Dysart. There isn't much along the trail between Vinton to Garrison and then Garrison to Dysart. There are a few areas along the entire trail with a bench for a rest, if needed. There is a nice shelter and rest area in Garrison, which is about 6 miles into the ride from Vinton. The rest area includes a water bottle filling station, and a bike repair station (these were installed in 2022).
The negatives about the trail were that in late summer there was a bit of vegetation overgrowth down the center of the trail, not the entire trail, but parts of the trail. Additionally, on both occassions I rode this trail, there were a number of large potholes, and some smaller ones, which were likely created by burrowing animals. Some of these holes are large enough to cause a significant crash if you are not paying attention and are cruising along at a good speed.
During my most recent experience, I rode on the trail just after a thunderstorm. I have a hybrid bike, so I purposefully underinflated my tires by a few pounds to allow for a less bumby ride. What I hadn't counted on was the trail surface still being a bit soft, so I spent a lot of extra effort just to pedal even on the flat surfaces. Think of riding your bike through sand, perhaps not that bad, but my tires definitely sunk into the surface and I exerted a lot of extra energy and effort to complete the entire 30 mile roundtrip ride.
Overall, this is a nice trail. When the surface is in good condition it's a good ride and the scenery is beautiful. Depending on the time of year, you are likely to see a lot of wildlife such as deer, birds, rabbits, and some raccoons. During one of my rides in 2022, I did spot a bobcat, but it quickly dashed into the tree line once spotting me.
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