Rolling by the Rivers

Mountain Biking in Eastern Iowa
Page 1 of 4   |  
Cyclist climbs out of Trail 104 of the Sugar Bottom Recreation Area
Biking trail in the Sugar Bottom Recreation Area. (Photo courtesy of the Iowa Coalition of Off-Road Bikers)

The Mississippi River and its tributaries dominate the geography of eastern Iowa, carving spectacular bluffs and picturesque river valleys that feature hardwood forests of hickory, elm, and oak. The landscape is scattered with"postcard" vistas of well kept farms and quiet rural communities that are the defining image of life in Iowa. The northeastern corner of Iowa was not scraped smooth by the Pleistocene glaciation and is now the most hilly, most eroded part of the state, an area tourist brochures like to compare with the pastoral hills of Switzerland.

All the interior rivers of the region drain southeastward to the Mississippi. The major cities of the region date back to the days of river commerce and water power and are all found on these rivers. Burlington, Davenport, and Dubuque are old Mississippi River towns, and Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, and Waterloo are interior cities on the Iowa and Cedar Rivers. Despite a century and a half of development, these river corridors still provide many natural areas where deer, wild turkeys, and bald eagles may be spotted.

This terrain includes some of Iowa's most scenic parks and recreation areas and some of the most interesting mountain bike trails as well. As in all of Iowa, there are many railroad conversion trails to choose from, including some of Iowa's most scenic ones. There are several state parks and recreation areas with good trail systems as well. © Article copyright Menasha Ridge Press. All rights reserved.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »