Now that the weather is warming up, consider strapping on a helmet and hitting the trails on two wheels with your kids. Here are a few Iowa City area trails to enjoy with kids.
Iowa City Area Kid Friendly Bike Trails
Terry Trueblood Recreation Area
579 McCollister Blvd, Iowa City
For little kids, we love Terry Trueblood Recreation Area. It’s a paved, flat, two-mile loop, perfect for the smallest riders. It can get busy on beautiful weekend days, so be careful to stay to the right and warn when passing/listen for warnings from those about to pass you! This loop connects to the Iowa River Trail, which stretches 18 miles all the way to Mehaffey Bridge Road in North Liberty, so you can extend this ride.
Waterworks Prairie Park
2875 N. Dubuque St., Iowa City
Waterworks Prairie Park is another flat, easy ride for kids. When my kids were small, they loved to stop under the interstate overpass and listen to cars thundering overhead (excitement!) as well as check the pond for wildlife. This is another point along the Iowa River Trail — with older kids/teens, we’ve parked at Waterworks and ridden the Iowa River Trail along N. Dubuque all the way to North Liberty, enjoyed a meal on the expansive patio at Red’s Alehouse in the warm spring sunshine, and then ridden back (about 40 minutes each way).
Sycamore Greenways Trail
Entrance on Lakeside Dr., across from Grant Wood School, Iowa City
The Sycamore Greenways Trail is 2 miles. There are a few small hills, but it’s little-trafficked and great for kids. The wildflowers here at the height of summer are amazing! There is almost no shade, so don’t go on a hot summer afternoon. End at Kickers soccer field and play on the playground, then ride back!
Before you visit the trails mentioned above (and more below!) be sure to check out these simple bike-safety tips from the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital Safety Store.
- Always wear a helmet. Make sure it fits snuggly, sits level on the head, and the straps are tight.
- Wear bright-colored clothing to make you more visible to other trail users.
- Wear tennis shoes and make sure the laces are tied tight.
- Ride on the right side of the trail.
- Ride during daylight hours and never in the rain.
- Never drag your feet to stop! Parents, make sure your child knows how to use the brakes on their bike.
- If kids are mature enough to ride a bike without adult supervision, they should always ask the adult in charge for permission, share where they are going, and ride with a buddy.
- Parents, remember you are the best role model for your children. Make sure you set a good example and follow these same rules.
Visit the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital Safety Store for $10 bike helmets in toddler through adult sizes. Bonus: Use code WINNER and you could win a Thule Chariot Cross Cycle Stroll, Thule Yepp Nexxt Maxi Child Bike Seat or Thule Yepp Nexxt Mini!
Clear Creek Trail
116 Hawkeye Ct., Iowa City
The Clear Creek Trail is one of my absolute favorite paved trails in Iowa City/Coralville. Begin at the wooded Mormon Handcart Trail, and don’t miss the historical placards! Mormon Handcart quickly links into the Clear Creek Trail (turn right) and runs all the way to the mall-sprawl area in Coralville. There are some hills and the Mormon Handcart section is narrow on this 9-mile trail, so this is a good spot for kids who are bit older. There is also a Tiffin section that runs from Hwy 218 to the Baseball/Softball/Soccer Complex (and the eventual plan is to connect these two sections). Restrooms and water are available seasonally (and parking all the time) at the Tom Harkin Trailhead on Camp Cardinal Blvd.
If you’re ready to do some off-roading, you can also hit up two exciting bike trails along the Clear Creek Trail in Coralville. The Woodpecker/Clear Creek Singletrack trail is 5.9 miles and just east of the Tom Harkin Trailhead on Camp Cardinal Blvd. Creekside Cross, 2.6 miles, is Johnson County’s first and only cyclocross park and is located just west of the Coralville Creekside Ballpark.
Cyclocross is kind of an obstacle course for your bike: there is rugged and varied terrain that presents different challenges: a barnyard, sand, wet/muddy areas, very steep hills, woods, and even obstacles that require you to get off your bike and carry it. Sugar Bottom Singletrack, “Iowa’s premier mountain bike trail system,” is 13 miles and located in the Sugar Bottom Recreation Area east of North Liberty. If you’re new to this or your kids are small, go on a weekday morning if you can and start off slow. Make sure you have the right equipment for off-pavement biking and I’m certainly not above making a promise to stop for a little ice cream treat if the work is hard!
Iowa River Trail
141 E. Park Road, Iowa City (park at Hancher Auditorium)
The stretch of the Iowa River Trail that goes along the Iowa River and the arts campus of the University of Iowa is also a picturesque place to take a short ride with young kids. Start at the Hancher Auditorium parking lot and end at the “curly” pedestrian walkway at the intersection of Iowa Ave and Riverside Dr. There are outdoor sculptures to climb on! In this area as well, City Park has extensive paved walkways great for little kid cycling, as well as playground equipment to stop and enjoy.
Willow Creek Trail
1519 Teg Dr., Iowa City (park at Kiwanis Park)
Another picturesque spot is the Willow Creek Trail, 2 miles. Start at Kiwanis Park, which has a small parking lot on Teg Dr. There is a super fun “natural” playground (with tunnels built through small hills and a lot of open, grassy space) and proceed along the trail to Willow Creek Park next door, which was updated with new, inclusive playground equipment in 2019. Offering plenty of shade, this trail winds along the creek and eventually crosses a busy intersection at Benton and Mormon Trek, then continues on to the West High campus.
Bike Iowa City offers trail descriptions and maps online. Trail Link and All Trails are two other websites that provide detailed information on local trails, from access points, mileage, and route descriptions to points of interest and natural beauty along the trails.
This is a sponsored post. ICM was compensated for sharing this piece. However, we love connecting our readers with people and organizations that are doing good in our community, and we think you will find this information helpful and informative!