Old Creamery Nature Trail


5 Reviews

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Old Creamery Nature Trail Facts

States: Iowa
Counties: Benton, Tama
Length: 15.3 miles
Trail end points: S K Ave/US 218 (Vinton) and X Ave/Market Rd (Dysart)
Trail surfaces: Cinder, Crushed Stone, Gravel
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6015673

Old Creamery Nature Trail Description

The Old Creamery Nature Trail, running between Vinton and Dysart, is so named for the Old Creamery Theater Company building in Garrison, another tiny farm community through which the trail passes. The gravel trail passes through rural Iowa among cultivated fields and farmsteads. In places stands of mature trees offer shade. At both ends and in the middle (Garrison) the trail passes through rural towns along an abandoned rail corridor now owned and managed by the Benton County Conservation Board. The Garrison Rest Area now has a bike repair station, a bike rack, and a water refill station. A group of local volunteers helps to maintain the trail.


Parking and Trail Access

In Dysart the trailhead is off Highway 21 and just east of Casey's. In Vinton the trailhead is off Highway 218 just north of Theisen's and ALCO. You can also access the trail in Garrison at the county trunk road V56 near Pine Street and where the trail intersect Hickory/Houston Street.

Old Creamery Nature Trail Reviews

A great opportunity to get away from the stresses of modern life

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.

Decent Trail

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.

Pleasant, flat ride

Had a nice, slightly windy 70 degree day in november and rode from Vinton to Dysart. Only saw 3 or 4 people on the round trip. Ride is flat and trail well maintained except near Dysart where there were a few trees down (but you could get around) and one bridge that was blocked with a detour sign although i did cross it and it seemed fine. Nice views of farms, a few bridges over creeks and once over the Cedar River. You can stop midway in Garrison and there is about a mile paved extension in Vinton. You could do it on a road bike if its dry although a hybrid might be a bit better. I had my mt bike and that was fine. It was past the nice leaf time but earlier in the fall and I would guess spring/summer there are enough trees it would be quite pretty. Very nice overall and i liked the low usage for the solitude. There are about five parking spots at the trailhead in Vinton (right at the end of 8th street and in Dysart it runs right through town so seemed like a lot of spots.

I rode the trail from Vinton to Garrison and return today to get a taste of what it had to offer. The trailhead in Vinton has parking for only about 5 cars, but on street parking in the general vicinity is also available. One drawback is that the parking area is across the highway from the trail's beginning, a lot on the same side as the trail start/finish would be more agreeable. The trail was very flat for the most part, shifting of gears was never a question. The beginning of the trail was rather narrow. (think a country lane) As I headed west from Vinton the trail was wider in some of the farmland sections, while the wooded sections were just a bit narrower. At each entrance to the trail there were signs noting that no motor vehicles or horses were allowed on the trail. However, it seems that equestrians had been using the trail recently, so care is advised, particularly in the wooded sections where it was a little bit darker and more difficult to see what they left behind. As for the surface, the trail was pretty much a worn limestone, with a few short sections of larger gravel. A couple of the bridge crossings could use a little bit of TLC to smooth out the transition from trail to bridge. I ride a hybrid, so the thought of riding over 30 miles on this surface wasn't very appealing. On the roundtrip I encountered 4 other cyclists, and 1 walker, so even on a nice Saturday the trail is lightly used.


Good trail

Nice trail with lots of trees and farmland.

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