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Thousands of people across the country are expected to participate in the inaugural Bike Your Park Day on Saturday, Sept. 24. This new national event promotes exploration of parks and public lands by bicycle.
Iowa’s state parks make beautiful biking destinations for families and friends, especially now, with cooler temperatures and changing seasons. Many state parks connect to more extensive bike trail systems, giving cyclists choices of distance and difficulty.
Worth a consideration next time you want to pedal a park are the following:
Big Creek State Park is one Iowa state parks’ best biking destinations. Located just north of Polk City, the park hosts miles 23-26 of the Neal Smith Trail. Riders can explore the wooded areas, prairies and shorelines in the park or continue on to downtown Des Moines. From the parking lot at Big Creek Beach, riders can go two miles east on 142nd Avenue to access the High Trestle Trail. The park’s location between these trails makes it an ideal park for bicycling opportunities.
George Wyth State Park makes a great biking park because its trails adjoin the Cedar Valley Trail system with more than 100 paved miles. There are many looped routes ranging from 6.2 miles to 50+ miles. The park also has 10 miles of soft trails for biking.
The main “stem” of the Iowa Great Lakes Trail system is a 14-mile, ten-foot-wide, hard surface trail with many arteries to explore Iowa’s Great Lake and the vast array of parks, beaches, lakeshores and other public areas that surround them.
Green Valley State Park’s 3.5-mile paved trail starts in the campground, follows much of the lake’s east side and finishes near the Green Valley Lake dam. The trail connects with 3 miles of other paved trails south of the lake traveling through a wildlife management area, past Southwestern Community College and ending in the town of Creston. Other grass multi-purpose trails in Green Valley State Park also offer bikers a soft-trail experience.
Pine Lake State Park has 2.6 miles of beautiful paved bike trail connecting its cabins and campground to its beach and fishing accesses on the Upper and Lower Pine lakes. Bikers can add about 3 more miles to their ride by starting at Deer Park in the town of Eldora, crossing the Iowa River and heading north on the park’s bike trail to Hwy S56. The road will take riders to two Hardin County areas, where the bike trail picks up and goes through Tower Rock to Pine Ridge Park
Honey Creek State Park and Resort Guests at Honey Creek Resort, on Lake Rathbun, can choose from a variety of bike types to rent or bring their own to enjoy the surrounding beauty of the resort. The whole resort is bike-friendly. On the wooded peninsula across from the resort is Honey Creek State Park with miles of paved roads inviting cyclists to tour the 800-acre park and catch a glimpse of the wildlife it holds.
Discover new parks or experience your favorites in a new way. Whatever the case, celebrate them as great bicycling opportunities, on Bike Your Park Day, Sept. 24.
For more information about Iowa’s state parks visit www.iowadnr.gov/parks
To find a nearby Bike Your Park ride, publicize your own ride for others to join, find a Bike Your Park ambassador for answers and suggestions, or for other do-it-yourself resources, visit www.adventurecycling.org.