So baby girl’s birthday has come and past, and Christmas is creeping up on us. I knew Yellow River was going to be a jump in editing difficulty, and with the holidays and birthdays that was a good assumption. It is still queued up and next on the list for a full video edit and trail report, no worries. Until then, I have decided to go ahead and write up the trail reports for the half dozen or so parks I don’t have any video footage of.
Also, it is winter and over the next couple months it will be prime frozen waterfall time. So Illinois’s Starved Rock State Park video will likely be budging in line and getting a slight edit and repost to spark some interest in hiking the icefalls.
Morgan Creek Park is a Linn County park that sits on the western edge of Cedar Rapids near Taft Middle School and the Cherry Hill area.
The trail system consists of two short network style trails that are split by Morgan Creek running between them. They total about 3 miles and are accessible from either of the parking areas at the arboretum or the group camping/picnic areas.
The eastern portion of the park has camping, a shelter, and a picnic area with a playground. On the southern edge of the picnic area is where you gain access to the trail, which is a mowed path that winds through an open prairie for roughly 2 miles.
This trail does cross over the creek on the northern part of the park for access to or from more camping and the western trail. This trail is a 1 mile network of crushed rock that contains an arboretum and butterfly garden. There are over 250 species of trees and shrubs according to the county website.
There really isn’t much of a difficulty level to this park as it is completely flat and pretty short, therefore no real need for gear. The network system design is also helpful in that it allows you to take the next trail back to the start if you feel you want to end your walk early. This is a great park for a nice afternoon stroll, or if you want to take the little ones for a show-and-tell as the arboretum is labeled interpretive style. The trails are wide and mostly smooth too, so very plausible for those that have off-road capable strollers.
A quick update on the the next park to be posted. Yellow River State Forest is queued up for editing, but first I’m working on another video for baby girl’s first birthday! That one takes a little more priority I’m sure you’ll understand. Yellow River is going to be a fun learning experience since it was a 15 mile hike that gave me a lot footage to go through. It was a very enjoyable and challenging hike that I am excited to return to in 2017. The goal is to have the video and trail report completed by Christmas!
Geode State Park is located in the southeast corner of Iowa near Danville between Mt. Pleasant and Burlington.
There is a single 8 mile trail that circles the lake. Trail maps for Iowa state parks can be found on the Iowa Department of Natural Resources website.
Although, be suspicious of their recorded mileage. This park is a perfect example as the map tells us it is 6.56 miles, when in reality it is 8.05 miles. Now most are actually accurate, but that’s also why I am creating a database of confirmed numbers. /wink. The trail is well worn with a couple short sections of road-walking. It is quite an enjoyable hike as you meander through the rolling hills of the forested trail. The first time I hiked the park was in April of 2014. At the time the park was still coming out of winter and hadn’t shed its brown layer yet.
Even so, it was still a very pleasant stroll with my wife. I returned this fall with a friend and the colors were excellent! It was a murky day that threatened rain, so I elected to leave the cameras in the car. I regretted that choice almost immediately. We both commented often at how nice the forest around us looked.
As far as difficulty, I would say Geode should be accessible to anyone who has enough fitness to travel 8 miles on their feet. For those who are not there yet, there is nothing wrong with finding a parking spot and just doing a down-and-back for a few miles on one of the sections of the trail. There was only one stream that could possibly cause an issue in late spring when the melt is flowing for those that don’t want to get their feet wet (in chilly post-thaw water). While a full daypack isn’t needed, I would suggest a good quantity of water and possibly a snack. If you don’t know your average pace, I would suggest planning a minimum of 3 hours to make it all the way around. The first time I hiked it, it took 3.5 hours. However, my return trip only took 2 hours and 45 minutes.
Another note is that this park is approved for mountain bikers. It would be more of a cross country style ride without obstacles. It appears to be pretty popular as both times I hiked it there were riders on the trails. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to check out the video over on YouTube.
Holy cow here we go! The first post of a blog about hiking in Iowa and the surrounding areas. Things are getting put together as I go; YouTube & Instagram are prepped and will be a large part of the focus aside from this blog. I have a plethora of photos ready to go, and plenty of video footage that I’ll be putting out monthly. Since winter is finally on the doorstep, I should have plenty of time indoors to get to work.