Indian Creek Nature Center

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Indian Creek Nature Center  is located on Otis/Bertram Road on the southeast edge of Cedar Rapids, west of Highway 13 and south of Mount Vernon Road.

The Indian Creek Nature Area is a very popular place due to its nature center and trails, hosting 14,000 kids worth of few schools tours every year. First, we didn’t check out the nature center when we checked out the trails, but my wife said she had taken the older children there in the past and they had enjoyed it. The center just launched an upgrade to it this year in the fall of 2016, and I imagine we’ll be taking baby girl there once she starts walking around. When we visited our focus was the trail system.

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Indian Creek NC-Headquarters-grounds-and-activity-areas-map.jpgThe trails at Indian Creek consist of a 4 to 5 mile network that strolls through prairie and forest on the west side of Indian Creek, with a short nature trail section around the nature center itself to the east.

We only hiked a little shy of 3 miles of the western section during our visit a couple years ago. The website suggests that they have made quite a few improvements, which tells me we should go back and check it out. We do live in Cedar Rapids after all… not to forget the aforementioned baby hiker.

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The prairie section had a nice flow that was pleasant and would be good for anyone looking for a walk in the sun. We aren’t real big on prairie walks to be honest, so it was quite nice once we crossed over into the wooded section on the northern portion of the park, especially Founder’s Grove. If there was a challenging section this would be the one place as some of the footing was loose.IMG_1160.JPG

If you plan to hike the whole thing I would suggest bringing water and definitely go to the website and download the maps to print. It is always nice to have a reference point to confirm you are heading in the correct direction. Other than that, the hike wasn’t difficult. You could easily spend a couple hours meandering along the trails if you wanted to, especially if you have young ones that want to fart around.

Sac Fox.jpgAs a side note; the parking lot also doubles as mid-point parking for the Sac & Fox Trail. The Sac & Fox Trail is a 7.5 mile point to point crushed rock recreation trail that travels along the Cedar River and Indian Creek.

So snag the mountain bikes, check out the nature center, explore the trails, and ride a section and back. Then go home, shower, and head out for date night. Of course you could head on over to the other side of town for Morgan Creek. Or, do all of the above and never leave town! Make a day of it!

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Christmas is approaching!

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 County Park

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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.

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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.

IMG_1144.JPGThe 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.

IMG_1150.JPGThis 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. IMG_1151.JPG

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.

Happy December

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

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Geode State Park is located in the southeast corner of Iowa near Danville between Mt. Pleasant and Burlington.

 

 

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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. 

dsc03795As 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.

 

 

The start of this thing

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.

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