By LMQC Outside blogger Wade Ellett
I’m thankful to live in a beautiful river valley with so many amazing places to explore.
Here are 3 new parks and trails I’d never been to before.
They’re not far from home, and have a lot to offer everyone, from strollers to wheelchairs and hikers to their pups!
Following a suggestion, I visited Soaring Eagle Nature Center.
While the Nature Center itself is only open for events and by appointment, the rest of the property is yours to explore until nightfall.
Roughly 3 miles of trails wind through and around restored native tall grass prairie, wetlands, and woodlands.
The twisting and turning trails make the entire place feel bigger than it is.
You can use the trails to hike from the Nature Center to the Flannery One-Room Schoolhouse, which is the last-built and only remaining one-room schoolhouse in Clinton County.
The trails also connect to Eagle Point Park, where you can, if you’re interested, climb the stairs in the castle-like stone tower. I highly recommend it!
You’ll also find the Prairie Pasture Dog Park at Soaring Eagle.
If you’re looking for a place to let your 4-legged friend run free, you’ll both love it. It features more than 8 acres with interesting structures, terrain, and plenty of running. Please note, however, that dogs must be leashed on the Soaring Eagle trails.
With 6 miles of trails, much of which follow alongside the beautiful Cedar River, you’ll have a pretty great time here.
During my visit, I explored the Overlook Trail, following it until I ran into a climber and had a great conversation.
If you’re interested in rock climbing or bouldering, there are a number of routes and problems for you to tackle.
That’s not something you’re going to find at most state parks in the Midwest, but Iowa’s Palisades-Kepler is full of surprises!
On my return path on Overlook Trail, in what seemed like a scene from a spooky novel, I noticed a staircase leading to an opening in a wall that I hadn’t seen on my approach.
As I descended, I realized it opened up onto the dam. I made my way onto a sandbar and watched the rapids on the Cedar River.
If you head down this way, exercise a great deal of caution because there are very strong currents, and loose footing.
For a higher vantage point, I made my way up the Cedar Cliff Trail to a small pavilion and an observation point overlooking the river. It’s a beautiful spot up there.
Though it’s beautiful in the summer months, I’m eager to make the trek in the snow, because I’m certain that the Cedar River looks beautiful when it’s icy!
I stumbled upon Discovery Park, which was a happy accident. It’s a great place!
Discovery Park has a small trail system, but it’s quite nice.
You can stroll along one and a half miles of paved trail, perfect for strollers or wheelchair users.
Off of this paved trail, you’ll find access to the 2 miles of primitive trails. Though not too challenging, you’ll find yourself surrounded by trees.
(I have no doubt it will be beautiful in the snow!)
The nearby the Environmental Learning Center features a permanent exhibit outlining the changes that have occurred in the Iowa landscape, as well as temporary exhibits, live reptiles and fish, and raptor displays.
Nature-loving kids will love a visit here!
|Meet Wade Ellett, Let’s Move Quad Cities Outdoor Blogger. Wade is an outdoor adventurer who shares his passion for QC outdoor adventures here! Read his other posts by clicking here.|