Introducing Anthony Heddleston, Let’s Move Quad Cities’ new Outside Blogger! He will share great trails and other outdoor adventures throughout the Quad City area. First up: Scott Community College trails!
To quote a great outdoorsman, “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” In the coming months, with the help of some inspirational quotes like that one from John Muir, I hope to take you on urban adventures throughout the Quad City region so that you too might get a little something more out of the wonderful area in which we live.
While I won’t explicitly stick to nature trails, I am going to start there courtesy of the Scott Community College trail system. I completed this particular adventure on a beautiful late-October afternoon.
If you search online, you’ll find several references to the trails in this area, none of which I found to be particularly accurate or helpful. This area is multipurpose in nature, serving at some points in time as a disc golf course, mountain biking trails, hiking trails, a walking path, and access routes for utilities within the City of Riverdale.
The walking path part of the system is clearly labeled with wooden mile marker posts that stick up about 1’ from the ground. This part will keep you predominantly on concrete sidewalks moving up and down the hills of the Crow Creek watershed.
Through the back of the parking lot at the culinary school, along Scott Community College’s drive, or from Belmont Road, you can access the dirt paths that really take you out into the solace of the woods. I would note that the access from Belmont is not outwardly apparent unless you’ve just exited the trails, but it’s roughly across and just slightly uphill from the intersection of Elk Drive and Belmont Road if you’re feeling adventurous.
For this hike, I started at the culinary school and entered the woods via the disc golf course. As you enter, the first thing you’ll note is a sign that says “play at your own risk.”
This area is filled with hills and valleys and the disc golf course is incredibly narrow. The main path of the course is mowed, and is fairly easy to follow, with occasional signage pointing you to the next hole as well as occasional painted trees, flags, and other markers.
You will find some stairs built into the more treacherous grades and a few small, wooden bridges to get you across the various feeder streams that lead to Crow Creek.
The first part of your walk will be along the edge of the woods and through open prairie. You’ll see some buildings and cars, and generally still feel like you’re “in town.” Soon, though, you’ll start to find yourself feeling truly out in nature, with only a train whistle able to pierce through the dense forest which you’re entering.
This was probably the most surprising part of this hike. The solitude along the path was far more than I expected with my proximity to several highly traveled roads and the college campus.
The other surprise back here were some INCREDIBLE oak trees. Part of me just wanted to stop, pull out a book, and relax under these majestic oaks that are hiding in the woods and completely unbeknownst to anyone who hasn’t been on the disc golf course.
Eventually, the course winds it way to the main tributary of Crow Creek on campus, and meets up with a utility corridor for the City of Riverdale. Along this path, which is partially graveled and could hold a dump truck, you’ll see occasional benches and bridges.
You’ll also be surprised at the amount of hedge apples/Osage oranges along the trail. If you’re enjoying your hike in the fall, you’ll see hundreds piled up along the path!
If you follow the utility easement, it eventually turns back into a narrow hiking path again and will take you up and down the hills towards the Belmont/Elk Rd entrance.
This trail is heavy with brush that makes sort of an archway for you to walk beneath. A few locations have trees across the path, but other hikers have made cut arounds to avoid them, or you can hop over or under them without too much effort.
You’ll have to push your way through the brush for the last 50 feet or so to get out to the main road where you’ll be greeted by well-manicured grass and a wide sidewalk that will take you back up the hill to the college, or down the hill to the Mississippi River Trail.
I headed back up the hill and went back into the college along their main access road. I continued back to my point of origin and had walked around 3.5 miles in the woods and along the sidewalks of the college.
All in all, this is a wonderful place to explore. I would recommend some good hiking shoes as you will encounter some rough terrain and have to hop over some logs, but generally, the area is well maintained.
We didn’t encounter any other hikers, bikers, disc golfers, or other patrons, so I would also recommend letting someone know you’re headed out to the Scott Community College trails in case you happen to get turned around on some of the less well marked trails (although following the many tributary creeks downstream will get you to the MRT & US 67 no matter how lost you might feel).
Parking is available on campus, across the college drive at Pleasant Valley High School, and at Bicentennial Park in Riverdale. Until next time, happy adventuring!
|Anthony Heddleston is a civil engineer who works on environmental projects with the Corps of Engineers. As the Let’s Move Quad Cities’ outdoor blogger, Anthony shares his joy of discovering new places to explore and his passion here for our beautiful QC! Read more QC Outside posts by clicking here.|