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About 8 miles of the Grant Wood Trail in Linn County has been constructed so far (2012) along a former Milwaukee Road right-of-way between Marion and Martelle. The trail currently is in three separate segments over a 10-mile stretch, the longest of which is the westernmost segment in Marion (3.25 miles). The trail is named for the early 20th-century Iowa artist, perhaps best known for his painting "American Gothic."
The first (western) segment begins at State Route 13/US 151 and heads east to Oxley Road. The second segment runs a shorter distance between Creekside Road and Springville Road. The third segment runs between Alderman Road and a creek about a third to half mile east of Taylor Road, where it comes to an abrupt dead-end just west of Linn Johnson Road.
All segments of the Grant Wood Trail follow a narrow wooded corridor and open green space among farm fields and farmsteads, occasionally tracing the course of a creek. The trail is paved on the western section and also features a prehistoric bog. You can link the disconnected segments on-road if traveling by bike. Pick up the Jones County portion of the trail in Martelle.
There are plans to link the segments one day and also build an underpass at SR 13 to link with trails in Marion. The trail is open year-round from sunrise to sunset.
There is limited parking on the westernmost segment along SR 12/US 151 and at the Oxley Road end.
In 2021, the longest segment of the trail was extended further west within Marion and now ends at 7th STREET. That stretch is about six miles long from the east endpoint at Oxley Road. The trail goes underneath Highway 13/151.
There is also another segment of trail within Marion that is about 1.3 miles in length. The western endpoint is just east of C Avenue NE. The trail has a high bridge over Indian Creek, and the trail dead ends just west of Marion Blvd. When I visited on 10/04/2021, there was construction underway to complete the 4/10's of a mile gap between the two sections described above. Hopefully, my review will also soon be out of date, and the connected stretches making one eight-mile trail.
The middle 2.3 mile stretch from Creekside Road to Springville Road is primitive, but passable. I would describe that stretch as grass growing through a narrow, gravel footpath. The grass is kept mowed. That stretch is scenic, with full-sized trees. However, with the primitive surface, I had to carefully watch where I was riding, instead of being able to gaze around.
The eastern-most stretch, between Alderman Road and Martelle should not be listed as a trail. It is not maintained, and there are multiple places with trees blocking the abandoned right of way.
Great job of clean up on the east end since last fall. Grass area west of Springville is a nice ride even on a hybrid. Last September it was largely impassable with downed trees from the derecho, but looks good now.
The first two segments of the trail between Highway 13 and Springville Road are well-maintained, pretty straight, and void of much in elevation change. The last segment of trail is requires riding a section of highway with a narrow gravel shoulder and a section of gravel road. When you get to the last segment of the trail (between Alderman Road and Martelle), you will find an unmaintained trail with vegetation growing waiste-high.it is obvious that no one has touched this part of the trail in 2020.
As a previous review noted, this is definitely more of a primitive bike path. Nonetheless, my ride was an enjoyable one: nearly uninterrupted solitude. The surface varies from crushed limestone to grass (as the trail continues further eastward). There is a brief segment (0.8 miles) where county highway E45 connects the two segments of the trail in Linn County, and this county highway has a paved shoulder. I found the trail surface to be manageable on 28mm tires when it has been dry for a day or two. Otherwise you may want to consider beefier tires for riding on this path.
You may not want to try this on a narrow-tired road bike, the surface is largely either turf, sand, or rocky turf :)
The Westernmost segment is about 3.2 miles long, somewhere in the middle there is maybe 50-75 yards of boggy (wet) grass from a spring, your tires may cut in a little.
It's about .7 miles of surface roads to the Center segment, which is about 2.3 miles long.
The Easternmost segment appears to have been abandoned. The TrailLink map shows the West end of this segment beginning at Alderman Rd, but, I don't think that the trail is accessible there unless you ride a fat bike and enjoy serious boon-docking. There -is- access to the Easternmost segment at Linn Grove Rd, (about 3.3 miles of Gravel roads from the East end of the Center segment), but, it's only passable going East, and then only for about .25 miles of nearly knee-high grass, until it dead-ends into a fence.
A great trail if you want to try a more primitive bike ride.I used a mountain bike and glad I did.This is mostly a grass trail with a gravel rut to run on,I saw a few walkers with dogs but no other bikers.It has great potential! Rode 1st 2 segments starting from Highway 13 going east and ran out time as I averaged about 8 mph because it's a little slower going.A cool change of pace from the normal Cedar Rapids paved trails!
I love to run on grass, and there's still some to run on here.
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