IOWA CITY - Iowa's 14th water trail will be formally dedicated during a ceremony on May 7, at the Hills Access, south of Iowa City. The Iowa River Water Trail dedication ceremony is scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m.
Prior to the dedication event, there will be an optional community paddle beginning at 8 a.m. from Sturgis Ferry Park in Iowa City that will allow participants to arrive at Hills Access in time for the ceremony.
During the ceremony, speakers from the Johnson and Louisa county conservation boards, Tri-Rivers Conservation Foundation, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and others will discuss the project and their vision for the water trail.
When the ceremony ends, the second leg of the journey begins with an afternoon paddle to River Junction Access, with arrival expected around 4 p.m.
Participants needing shuttle service, boat rental or lunch must register and pay a $25 fee to cover expenses and to support the water trail. Boat rentals are limited, so early registration is encouraged.
For those with their own boat and do not need services, registration is not required and the fee is optional and any fees collected will go to support the water trail. Participants in paddling events are required to wear lifejackets.
The 72-mile long stretch of the Iowa River Water Trail is a dam-free section of the Iowa River from Iowa City to the Mississippi River with a relaxing atmosphere, plenty of stopping points and amenities and summer sandbars for camping. There are outfitters nearby who can supply boats, shuttle and trip planning assistance.
At river mile 30, the Cedar River joins the flow and the Iowa River doubles in size. In Louisa County, the river flows through 7,000 acres of public land, allowing for great wildlife watching, birding and fishing.
With the addition of the Iowa River Water Trail, there are now 715 river miles of water trails in Iowa.
The water trail designation brings with it signs at accesses that include the river mile number, signs for amenities like primitive camping, a kiosk at the trail head with a map of the water trail, a description of what paddlers may experience, safety information and photos of wildlife common to the trail.
Additional water trail dedications are planned for Hickory Ridge Primitive Camp and Red Rock Water Trail on July 23 and the Middle River Water Trail in Madison County on October 1.
Water trails are in the final stages of development at Lake Rathbun, Lizard Creek at Fort Dodge, Grand River, South Skunk River and the Turkey River and will likely be dedicated during 2011.
An alternate date for the Iowa River Water Trail dedication ceremony is August 6.