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Explore the best rated trails in Waterloo, 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 52 trails covering 4059 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.
Connects the Big Woods loop trail with Black Hawk Park. Well maintained and paved, the trail runs alongside Lone Tree Road in a straight line. It’s not shaded at all, so it can be a nice sunny reprieve from the wooded trails it connects, or sweltering, depending on the weather.
Great trail, but doubt if a lot of us will live long enough to see it finished. Started in 2017 in Marshall county, been working on it for 7 years but only 3 miles done. At this rate, it will take about 25 years to get to the Hardin County line, (about 12 miles) where they will take over for their share. I believe Hardin county has maybe 5 miles paved. There's a large bridge over the Iowa River north of Marshalltown which needs replaced to carry the ambulances. The trail is concrete and 10 feet wide.
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).
Connects to a lot of other trails. Be sure to stop at Anton's Garden.
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.
We rode this trail in late May, 2023. The concrete trail is very wide, and just a few slight hills when you reach the campground. It is great to ride along the Wapsipinicon river, and then through the campground itself. A wonderful addition to Central City! if you have your children with you, there are several amazing playgrounds with a rubberized surface, as well as all accessible swings, etc.!
Surprised to see this amazing trail that has great bed and breakfasts along it is not noted as part of the Great American Rail Trail. It sure would help demonstrate more GART completion if it was.
The wife and I rode this trail for the first time on the first day of spring, going to be our favorite trail I believe! Start in Steamboat Rock and it’s a gradual incline most of the way to Eldora which makes it easy ride on the return trip. For us Golden age folks it’s a win win…
Has little work out things on side of trail, that’s pretty awesome for them to have.
13.6 miles from waverly to readlyn. It’s very shady on the western part of the trail and not so much the closer you get to readlyn. Good hard surfaced trail that has great towns and parks and amenities on both ends.
The trail is complete from clarskville to Bristow. A nice hard surfaced trail ( blacktop and concrete). 22.5 miles from Bristow to shell rock ( there is a portion of it just west of Clarksville that is on the highway for about a mile but there is a bike lane). The trail segment around the Hampton area is crushed limestone and is not very nice.
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