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The Cedar Falls area has something for both the seasoned cyclist and novice rider.

Cedar Falls, a gateway to some of Iowa’s best bike trails

by Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking.com

On my first visit to Central Iowa, I was amazed at the intricate network of hard surface bicycle trails the Cedar Falls Area has to offer. On this trip, I had the opportunity to
ride with several of the Cedar Valley Cyclists and enjoy some of the roads and trail loops in the area they frequent often. The Cedar Falls area has something for both the seasoned cyclist and novice rider. This is also a bike-friendly community perfect for the off-road cyclist (cyclocross, fat bike, mountain biking, and BMX), with several opportunities awaiting your arrival. Not to mention the wide array of historic, educational and entertaining attractions to take in when not riding.

About Cedar Falls and the Valley Lake Trail options

The Ceder Valley Trail System offers several loops between Cedar Falls and Waterloo.

The Ceder Valley Trail System offers several loops between Cedar Falls and Waterloo.

The Cedar Valley Lakes Trail through Cedar Falls and Waterloo intertwine throughout the area – Offering over a 100 miles of trails. As I discovered, some of these trails connect and meander through neighboring Waterloo for additional cycling opportunities. A Bronze Bike Friendly Community designation by the League of American Cyclists, see the Cedar Falls bike map for an overview of the vast trail systems and designated bike routes you can enjoy, as I did.

My first ride while visiting

On my first day there, before the rest of my group arrived from Minnesota, I had the opportunity to ride with Brian Will. A local realtor, Brian is a member of the Cedar Valley Cycling Club. He volunteered to show me some of the trail loops and bike-friendly street routes used for connectivity. The first thing I noticed as we explored the trails, the majority of the trails are paved in concrete, with only a few patches of asphalt to remind me of home.  Our first adventure was on the Big Woods Lake Trail. This is a perfect trail loop for biking while viewing birds and wildlife.

Stopping at the Hearst Center For The Arts & Sculpture Garden along the trail.

Brian Will stopping at the Hearst Center for a view of the Arts & Sculpture Garden along the trail.

In the afternoon, after stopping for lunch on Cedar Falls ‘promenade’ (Main Street) we went out and rode sections of the Prairie Lakes Trail. A part of the American Discovery Trail System, we found several loops that took us into some charming and historic neighborhoods in Cedar Falls. Further along, from the trail, we viewed the agricultural test field at the University of Northern Iowa. We then stopped at the Hearst Center’s Arts & Sculpture Garden, before returning to the promenade, to check out the new brewery downtown.

Road Bike and Trail Touring Options

Gathering for a ride on the Promenade in Cedar Falls.

Gathering for a ride on the Promenade in Cedar Falls.

The next couple of days, with a group of my friends now in town from the Twin Cities, we joined the Cedar Valley Cycling Club on a couple of rides. With several of their members showing up, we explored the trails and roads in the area. First, we visited Waterloo and a couple of other outlying communities. Periodically stopping to visit, they shared information on the communities Bike to Work, Bike to Play program.

Mountain Bike, CycleCross, and BMX Fun Opportunities

If you prefer the off-road side of cycling you may be surprised at the number of mountain bike trails in the Cedar Falls and Waterloo area. They include George Wyth State Park, Katoski Green Belt, Riverview Park, Tondro Pray Bike Park, and Ulrich Park.

Tondro Pray Bike Park is your headquarters for off-road fun.

Tondro Pray Bike Park is your headquarters for off-road fun.

At the Tondro Pray Bike Park, you have several additional options along with the mountain bike trails there. The park amenities here also includes a: BMX/pump track, a mountain bike skills area, and a cycle cross course.

Things to do in Cedar Falls Area after your ride

For this trip, to accommodate 18 of my cycling friends from the Twin Cities we used one of the hotels on the west side of Cedar Falls, not far from the University of Northern Iowa. Being a bike-friendly community, the AmericInn we stayed at was convenient. The hotel was only a couple of blocks, on quiet streets, to the trailhead and less than 20 minutes, by bike, to the promenade.

Cedar Falls is a great place for cyclists to gather.

Cedar Falls is a great place for cyclists to gather.

Coming off the trail the first thing I noticed as I approached downtown Cedar Falls was the Ice House Museum. This building along the Cedar River was built in 1921. The museum houses an extensive collection of ice harvesting archives that visitors can view while learning what life was like before refrigerators.

On the promenade, you will find a wide assortment of local shops and unique restaurants that will entertain you for hours. Shops include everything: repurposed antiques; two bike shops; contemporary clothing; a cupcake shop; breweries; fair-trade artisan products from around the world; and more.

Things to do in Waterloo

The John Deere Museum offers many example of agricultural history, from household appliances to early farm equipment.

The John Deere Museum offers many examples of agricultural history, from household appliances to early farm equipment.

A 10-minute commute by car or a 30-minute trail ride, Waterloo offers several more opportunities when not in the saddle. One of the must-sees when in the area is the John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum. The newest exhibit here highlights the history and contribution John Deere has made to agriculture and their farm families through their nearly 100-year in operation in Waterloo.

Here at the museum is a John Deere bicycle, from the 70's, displayed.

Here at the museum is a John Deere bicycle, from the ’70s, displayed.

Another option if you are into plants and flowers is the Cedar Valley Arboretum & Botanic Gardens. This 40 acre center of beauty features: an award-winning Children’s Garden; 4-acre Butterfly Meadow; a Rose Garden; a stunning day lily and Hosta collections; unique Mosaiicultures; and a 1-acre Master Gardener’s Orchard.

Check here for more attractions and museums in the area and to plan your #NextBikeAdventure to Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Here in this bike pic, when caught this mother and daughter enjoying a sweet treat on RAGBRAI 2018, in the overnight town of Newton, IA.

Bike Pic Aug 19, ice cream smiles Sunday is sweet fun

Here in this bike pic, when caught this mother and daughter enjoying a sweet treat on RAGBRAI 2018, in the overnight town of Newton, IA.

What better way to continue your summer fun and your #NextBikeAdventure. View all the great ideas and bike destinations in the latest Iowa or Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide. Then plan your next outing with family and friends in one of Minnesota’s HaveFunBiking Destinations.

Thanks for Viewing Our ‘RAGBRAI’ bike pic

We are now rolling into our 10th year as a bike tourism media. As we pedal forward our goal is to continue to encourage more people to bike and have fun while we highlight all the unforgettable places for you to ride. As we continue to showcase more places to have fun, we hope the photos we shoot are worth a grin. Enjoy the information and stories we have posted as you scroll through.

Do you have a fun bicycle related photo of yourself or someone you may know that we should post? If so, please send your picture(s) to: editor@HaveFunBiking.com. Include a brief caption (for each) of who is in the photo (if you know) and where the picture was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels wide or larger to be considered. If we use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As we continue to encourage more people to bike, please view our Destination section at HaveFunBiking.com for your #NextBikeAdventure – Also, check out the MN Bike Guide, now mobile friendly, as we enter into our 8th year of producing this hand information booklet full of maps.

Remember, bookmark HaveFunBiking.com on your cell phone and find your next adventure at your fingertips! Please share our pics with your friends and don’t forget to smile. We may be around the corner with one of our cameras ready to document your next cameo apperance while you are riding and having fun. You could be in one of our next Pic’s of the Day.

Have a great day!

On this bike pic day, with family and friends rolling in, it is ice cream smiles or grins Sunday! So pump up the tires and plan your #NextBikeAdventure with a stop at your favorite ice cream shop.

Bike Pic July 29, ice cream smiles Sunday adds extra fun to the weekend

On this bike pic day, with family and friends rolling in, it is ice cream smiles or grins Sunday! So pump up the tires and plan your #NextBikeAdventure with a stop at your favorite ice cream shop.

Plan your next outing with family and friends at one of Minnesota’s HaveFunBiking Destinations. View all the fun ideas and bike destinations in the latest Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide.

Thanks for Viewing Our ‘Ice Cream Smiles Sunday’ Bike Pic   

We are now rolling into our 10th year as a bike tourism media. As we pedal forward our goal is to continue to encourage more people to bike and have fun while we highlight all the unforgettable places for you to ride. As we continue to showcase more places to have fun, we hope the photos we shoot are worth a grin. Enjoy the information and stories we have posted as you scroll through.

Do you have a fun bicycle related photo of yourself or someone you may know that we should post? If so, please send your picture(s) to: editor@HaveFunBiking.com. Include a brief caption (for each) of who is in the photo (if you know) and where the picture was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels wide or larger to be considered. If we use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As we continue to encourage more people to bike, please view our Destination section at HaveFunBiking.com for your #NextBikeAdventure – Also, check out the MN Bike Guide, now mobile friendly, as we enter into our 8th year of producing this hand information booklet full of maps.

Remember, bookmark HaveFunBiking.com on your cell phone and find your next adventure at your fingertips! Please share our pics with your friends and don’t forget to smile. We may be around the corner with one of our cameras ready to document your next cameo apperance while you are riding and having fun. You could be in one of our next Pic’s of the Day.

Have a great day!