Marshalltown trails provide means of exercise for residents

This article was first published in the Times-Republican on June 6, 2019.

Biking and walking on trails are an easy and fun family activity that keeps everyone active whether it’s biking, walking or running and helps to form a connection with the environment through scenic views.

“These trails provide accessibility around town safely and if people want to be environmentally conscious they can ride their bikes to different places without having to mess with cars,” said Geoff Hubbard, director of Marshalltown Parks and Rec. “It’s a great exercise where you could go from Riverview to Melbourne on the same path.”

Linn Creek Recreational Trail

The trail that is most central to Marshalltown and connects many parts of the city together is the Linn Creek Recreational Trail.

The Linn Creek Recreational Trail connecting Grimes Farm to Marshalltown’s bike trail system was completed in 2005. The trail and several short loops connect a variety of outdoor activity hubs which include camping at Riverview Park, the Nicholson-Ford Wetlands and OHV Park, the Marshalltown Family Aquatic Center, adult softball and Little League diamonds, playgrounds and picnic areas and the Grimes Farm and Conservation Center.

Some of the greenery that trail users can enjoy include views of river bottom timberland and marshes, prairie grasses and wildflowers and restored farmland and woodland at Grimes Farm.

“Hopping on [the Linn Creek Recreational Trail] at Mega-10 Park and heading out to Grimes Farm is nice because you’re running along Linn Creek and there’s a lot of pretty things there, you run into all kinds of animals, especially once you get out beyond Highland Acres there is a lot of wildlife and nature that you can see,” Hubbard said, when talking about his favorite trail.

Iowa 330/US 30 Trail

Another trail close to, but not actually in Marshalltown, is the Iowa 330/US 30 Trail.

The Iowa 330/US 30 Trail stretches from just west of Melbourne to the outskirts of Marshalltown, paralleling its two namesake roadways. On its northern end, the trail provides access to the Grimes Farm Nature Center and connects to the Linn Creek Recreational Trail.

The future of this trail includes a four-mile expansion to Rhodes to link up with the Heart of Iowa Nature Trail, giving riders an uninterrupted off-road experience for more than 60 miles from Marshalltown to Woodward, Ankeny and Des Moines.

Iowa River Trail

A trail that is currently in the works with only small sections of its overall 34-mile length completed is the Iowa River Trail.

The Iowa River Trail will connect seven cities and two counties to the Iowa River Greenbelt and the Central Iowa Trail Network. The trail will connect Steamboat Rock, loop between Pine Lake State Park and Eldora and connect to Union, Liscomb, Albion and Marshalltown.

In Marshalltown, the trail is open for 2.2 miles extending from the Ann Keyser Trailhead at Wilson Circle to the Summit Street Viaduct. In Steamboat Rock, there is a short section starting South of County Highway D35 heading West, over the river.

“The trail is located in an area known for its scenic qualities and diverse wildlife habitat, possessing scenic bluffs, wetlands and species usually found only in northeast Iowa,” according to the city’s website.

“We have nine bridges and about seven miles of road we need to put in that would connect up to Albion,” Hubbard said.

According to the CDC, the physical activity a person receives from walking and biking to parks can have both environmental and personal health benefits. It decreases air pollution and car crashes which in turn can reduce chronic disease rates and traffic-related injuries. Physical activity can also help control your weight, reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes, reduce your risk for some cancers, strengthen your bones and muscles, improve your mental health and mood, improve your ability to do daily activities and prevent falls if you’re an older adult and increase your chances of living longer.