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The North Ridge Trail is a real gem of a trail, located northwest of Iowa City in the suburban communities of Coralville and North Liberty - the trail is the result of the combination of the North Liberty Recreational Trail and the Coralville Recreational Trail, which were linked in 1999. The paved, concrete trail serves as an important off-road transportation option, creating a vital link in the regional trail network and giving nearby residents a convenient path to access popular community destinations. Lest you think that the trail is all business, however, the North Ridge Trail also acts as a lovely recreational trail, with the majority of its over six-mile route following a green, tree-lined corridor through the heart of the adjacent suburban neighborhoods.
Starting in the south, the trail begins along 25th Avenue at an intersection with the scenic Clear Creek Trail, a five-mile pathway that follows the gorgeous woods along the creek that marks the edge of the community. The trail quickly abandons the natural scenery as it passes by the sprawling complex of the Coral Ridge Mall, home to a number of restaurants and shops, as well as the fantastic Iowa Children's Museum - a must-visit destination for families.
Past the mall, the trail runs under the busy interstate and into the quieter confines of North Ridge Park, a charming local park with ample room for outdoor activities. Loop around the park grounds or simply head out through the entrance on the northwest side, then continue along a stretch of the Holiday Road Trail to the east to pick up the North Ridge Trail again as it runs in between rows of homes to the north. The trail continues through this pleasant, tranquil corridor for a while before reaching Oakdale Boulevard, where the Oakdale Boulevard Trail intersects it running east and west. Make a slight jog to the west and then continue north on the trail as it parallels a set of railroad tracks, operated as part of the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Railway (or CRANDIC). A little over two miles of the trail continues as a rail-with-trail, with the concrete pathway separated by a line of trees and shrubs.
Further north, in the community of North Liberty, the trail leaves the rail corridor to follow a branch of the Muddy Creek, with the trail surface switching to a beautifully smooth asphalt as it makes its way into the heart of the suburban city. The North Liberty Community Center and Library are located just west of the trail along Cherry Street, with shops and restaurants along Penn Street and Ranshaw Way (accessible by the convenient sidepath Ranshaw Way Trail).
The last stretch of the North Ridge Trail has trail users heading east on Penn Street, over the railroad tracks, before turning north again along Dubuque Street. The trail winds its way through an industrial area before coming to an end at the southern edge of the residential Fox Run neighborhood. With its connections to numerous other trails, parks, shops, and popular community destinations, the North Ridge Trail has both beauty and utility in spades.
Public parking is available near the southern end of the trail in North Ridge Park, located at 2250 Holiday Road in Coralville, just a short drive off of exit 240 from Interstate 80. Additional parking may be available along the route at nearby businesses; be sure to follow any posted parking signs and regulations.
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