Cyclists, walkers and rollerbladers have plenty of great options to get moving around Cedar Rapids and Linn County.
You can easily connect the spots in the Cedar Rapids area, thanks to an extensive system of trails that branch from downtown and stretch throughout Linn County.
“It’s all about connectivity,” says Kyle Moscrip, a fourth-generation owner of Hall Bicycle Co., which has been operating in Cedar Rapids since 1898. “Having miles of trails is awesome but having miles of trails that connect things is even better. People can get on these corridors of trails and traverse the city and the area. They can go to restaurants or get out of town and visit some nearby lakes.”
It is a system that the Linn County Trails Association (LCTA) has been helping to piece together and maintain since the 1990s, when the organization first began raising funds to purchase rights of way to preserve them for future trail development.
“There is a trail here for everybody,” says Diane Handler, LCTA Membership and Communications Committee chair. “We have nicely paved trails for biking, walking and rollerblading. We have limestone trails that are kind of sidewalks into nature. We have single-track trails for mountain biking. We have trails that go along the river, trails that go through prairie, trails that go into deep woods.
“There is a trail here for everybody. We have nicely paved trails for biking, walking and rollerblading. … We have trails that go along the river, trails that go through prairie, trails that go into deep woods.”
Diane Handler, Linn County Trails Association
“We have these backbone trails that run north-south and east-west. Then, Cedar Rapids has done an amazing job putting connectors into neighborhoods, and the cities around us – Marion, Hiawatha, Robins, Ely, Fairfax – have all made an effort to put in connectors to the bigger trails. We just have a really good system of trails going on.”
Biking along the trails is easy as well. The Cedar Rapids Micromobility Program allows residents to conveniently rent a bike or scooter for short trips, then return them to a designated parking station.
It is common to see groups of cyclists cruising around town on summer evenings or on weekends throughout the year. There also are numerous cycling events in the area, including Women’s Mountain Biking Day, the Freedom Bike Ride & Festival, Trails to Cocktails, Bike to Work Week, the Cedar Rapids District Bike Ride, and the annual Metropolitan Planning Organization Bike Ride, which showcases new trails and ways to connect to them.
“There’s a whole social structure around these trails,” Handler says. “It’s a pathway to communication for people.”
Enjoy the 52-Mile Cedar Valley Nature Trail
The spine of the trail system in the region is the Cedar Valley Nature Trail. Built on the former right-of-way of the Waterloo, Cedar Falls & Northern Railway in the early 1980s, it was one of the first linear parks in all of Iowa, cutting through four counties for 52 miles from Hiawatha to Evansdale.
“You can go a long distance and visit several towns along the way,” says Moscrip, whose shop is less than a block from an access point to the trail as it passes through downtown Cedar Rapids.
Other Great Trails in Cedar Rapids
Other popular trails in the area include:
» BOYSON TRAIL (MARION): Stretching 2 miles along Indian Creek, the trail runs past several public parks.
» CEDAR GREENBELT NATIONAL RECREATIONAL TRAIL: The 4-mile limestone trail winds through 210 acres of wetlands, forests and prairies. It is popular for bird watching and cross-country skiing.
» CEDAR RIVER TRAILS: Experience numerous Cedars – Cedar Lake, Cedar River, Cedar Rapids – on this 12.6-mile-long, 10-foot-wide trail.
» MORGAN CREEK PARK: The 352-acre park has more than 4 miles of trails that loop around an arboretum and butterfly garden.
» MOUNT TRASHMORE: Built on a former landfill, this quick 1.1-mile trail leads to the highest point in Cedar Rapids.
» SAC AND FOX TRAIL: The 7.2-mile crushed limestone trail travels through a wooded valley along both Indian Creek and Cedar River.
Get to Know Cedar Rapids
Want to learn more about living and working in Cedar Rapids, IA? Check out the latest edition of Livability Cedar Rapids, IA.
“The great thing about all these trails is they give people safe corridors to get downtown and also into nature,” Handler says. “There are things you might not see if you’re just driving past on the road, but trails get you out into nature again.”