Along the Cedar Falls Trail -- Sunday, 5/29/16
After days of warm and humid -- which is a little better than hot and humid -- today's rain prediction was negligible. In fact, the sun shone brightly when we bounded out of bed ... or, maybe just rolled out. We'd been waiting for a cooler, less muggy, and drier day to explore some of the Cedar River Trail on our bikes. This was our opportunity!
We got an early enough start, and our only plan was to take as long as we wanted and explore as much as we could. But, first came a hearty breakfast of Kodiak flapjacks and bacon -- yum! The Cedar Falls area has over 80 miles of recreational trails that course beside lakes, through river bottomlands, along forested riverbanks, and prairies, much of it shaded with hardwoods. This being a Sunday and part of a three-day weekend, plenty of people were enjoying the great outdoors, same as us. Seeing families (with youngsters) together using the trail was especially nice.
We pedaled around Big Woods Lake, where kayakers paddled.
Above and below: A signboard gave us stats: Prior to pioneers settling the countryside, almost 30 million acres of Iowa were covered by a vast ocean of waving tall grasses and wildflowers. Today, fewer than 30,000 acres of original prairie survive as scattered remnants amidst the agricultural landscape (think: corn). We were fortunate to ride along a 13-acre reconstructed prairie, and it was gorgeous.
I think I mentioned in a previous post about all the water hereabouts. From a powerful river to a mud puddle, Cedar Falls has water! This may be hard to believe, but despite lots of standing water, we didn't get bit once. No skeeters, no gnats, ticks or flies -- didn't see a one. It was great!
We pedaled next to the river for a while. Downtown Cedar Falls is to the left where the red building is, and our bike trail is visible on the right.
Wildflowers from all habitats.
We crisscrossed the river. On the south side, we realized we were on an old railroad when we spied obsolete power poles and an old rusted signal light and box, which Jimmy was examining.
Up the hill behind Jimmy are homes in Cedar Heights and the river streaks by in front. This is where we stopped to eat a granola bar and sip a Gatorade. The bike path was mostly flat, or a mild grade. Another perk of the trail is all the benches provided, as well as an occasional picnic table. Really very nice.
As we rode back into town, we got off our bikes at the "falls." It's only about a ten-foot drop from the low-head dam, but the water at the bottom creates a rolling action, and if a person was go over, they'd get caught in there. Jimmy and I talked about what would happen if a kayak went over. The person might never get out. It's dangerous, but thankfully, a chain is draped from the bridge (where I'm standing to take the picture below) to the water. The river was high, so the drop may have been more now.
We had a lovely day out riding. The temp was just right for a spot of exercise. We managed to fritter away five very enjoyable hours outside, and biked a bit less than 25 miles. Returning on the trail to Black Hawk Park c/g, we made preparations to leave in the morning ... still heading east. Two more "I" states to go!