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Parking for the Linn Creek Recreational Trail can be found at many points along the trail's route. In the west, park at the Grimes Farm Nature Center lot on 233rd Street. A large parking lot can be found just off S. 12th Street at the baseball fields adjacent to the train tracks. There is another lot just a bit to the east of there where S. 6th Street meets the train tracks, or consider parking at the large municipal lot on Washington Street. In the northern part of Marshalltown, there is a parking lot at the Nicholson Ford Nature Area on E. Marion Street. Another lot is located at the trail's eastern endpoint in Riverview Park just off Woodland Street.
Overall I like this trail and ride it often. There are sections that are unfortunately in deplorable condition. The same terribly large cracks in the pavement have existed near Mega 10 park and the Riverview/Nicholson Ford area for many years.
Biking on this trail allows riders to see a lot of the midwest scenic variance which Marshall County offers. Beginning on the west side of the trail, riders will go from Grimes Farm through a small forest area which runs along a double railroad line. This section is always shaded and cool and offers a nice retreat from the summer heat. This is followed by a short jaunt through the city of Marshalltown itself. This is part of the original trail and follows Linn Creek through both residential and industrial areas. There are several places to stop and enjoy the local scene. Following this section is a run along the forested east side of Marshalltown. The view along what I would describe as prairie land is beautiful, especially in the evening. You eventually find yourself along the Iowa River which brings you to Riverview Park. The trail from start to end is about 10 miles. The entire thing is paved and mostly flat. The trail is accessable at numbeous points throughout the city. You'll mostly see bikers, walkers/joggers, and a few people walking to fishing grounds along the river. All in all, a very nice place to ride.
The western end, as you approach Grimes Farm, is pleasant enough and has recently been resurfaced. But most of the trail as it winds around the town of Marshalltown, seems to have been deliberately routed through the least scenic parts of the city.
The surface is paved, but there are several spots covered with stripes of tar where the pavement has cracked, and all along the northern and eastern parts of the trail there are big cracks with weeds growing up through the middle of the trail.
Not my favorite ride.
I've ridden this trail since it was first established on top of the dike that protects Marshalltown from flooding. A two mile extension along the Union Pacific right of way was built about 10 years ago. In total, it's an easy, flat, paved 8.25 miles from Riverview Park at the east end to Grimes Farm on the west. It is getting used more each year and is well maintained.
Overall the views are what should be expected of any trail that runs through a small city. There are some good ones and there are some not so good. There are areas of the trail that are not well maintained and others that are little more than average. Weeds tend to bend over and cover the trail regularly. For the most part the trail is relatively flat with rolling small hills.
One of the biggest problems on the trail is where they have planted steel poles in the center of the path just before a blind curve, I will call it idiotic and leave it at that. They also haven't taken down the sandbags that cover literally 1/2 of the bike trail for a distance of maybe 75/100 feet at its most northern section, it appears the city doesn't feel the need to remove them since it will definitely flood again sometime in the future, so clearly a better solution isn't on the table at this point. The bags have been there so long that they are starting to break open from disintegration and are leaking sand onto the other half of the trail making it very treacherous for anyone riding a bike. Finally, The town has many individuals that don't know or don't care about the trails rules as many times I have seen them walk their dogs without a leash and/or allowing their little children to run wild with little or no supervision. On any given day you can smell the local packing plant miles after mile.
The majority of this trail is in excellent condition, but there is a 2-3 mile section in town with so many deep and wide cracks that my rear fender broke as I bottomed out in one. However, there are some river views and deep woods sections that are magnificent. Unfortunately, it seems that many trails are built then mostly ignored - a lot like many highways!
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