Cedar River Trail - South
Running south from downtown Cedar Rapids, this asphalt trail is in fantastic condition. Within the city it provides easy access to the Czech Village and NewBo District. The most southern portion loses it's urban vibe as it travels along the Cedar River before merging into the Hoover Trail.
Named after our 31st president this trial connects to the Cedar River Trail and travels into the quiet town of Ely. It is a paved divided trail that has been very well maintained. With minimal grades and shelter provided by wooded areas, it's an enjoyable ride. There are a couple of highway crossings but they did not prove challenging.
Sometimes you just gotta get away. Sometimes you only have a day to do it. Thank goodness for day trips!
My sister and I headed to Cedar Rapids for a day filled with shopping, eating and and out-n-back ride to Ely. Thanks to the one-click provided by the Cedar Rapids Convention & Visitors Bureau, we had a list of places to visit.
Our adventure began at Brewhemia. After a long car ride caffeine was needed. This quaint spot was hopping! Lots of people were meeting up for conversation or working from their laptops. Luckily we found a quiet corner towards the back to enjoy our coffee and discuss the plans for the day.
We intended to start our ride after getting caffeinated but I couldn't just walk past the independently owned bookstore next door. In we went to browse books and admire art. The Next Page Bookstore is just like the bookstore I've always dreamed of working in. Small, with an interesting selection and cozy spots to relax and turn through the pages.
Finally, it was time to hit the trail. We unloaded our bikes and headed to Sokol Park to catch the southern portion of the Cedar River Trail.
Crossing the Bridge of Lions on 16th Ave SW we paused to admire the stoic lions. Lions are symbols of Bohemia and signify power and sovereignty. These reminded us of Aslan, C.S. Lewis' character from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. The Bridge of Lions is a popular Cedar Rapids landmark and an important link connecting the Czech Village and the NewBo district.
Following the trail along the Cedar River we enjoyed the fall colors and views of the water. We pedaled past a couple of industrial plants and speculated the source of the smells coming from them. I had forgotten about the odoriferous aspect of CR.
Our ride to Ely was beautiful. Leaves falling, a smooth trail, and some curves to keep it interesting.
Then it happened! The thing I've always hoped to experience on a bike ride. Seeing turkey! A big tom and his harem were out enjoying the sunshine gleaning corn from a recently combined field. We stopped and watch them for a while. They were either unaware or unconcerned of our presence. Now I can check turkey off my "wildlife seen on a bike ride" list.
Arriving in Ely we found our way over to The Retreat. This is a charming spot for taking a bike break. Located in a renovated house, this coffee shop uses a special water filtration system to make a perfect cup of joe. With so many cozy nooks to choose from it was almost difficult to pick where to sit. What was difficult was leaving!! We could easily have spent the afternoon here relaxing, but there were only a few hours left in our day and there was more to explore.
The Field Trip
After returning to Cedar Rapids the whirlwind of eating and shopping began.
First was a refreshing pint of beer inside the eclectic Parlor City Pub then across the street to NewBo City Market where we discovered Rare Bird Soap Shop and shared a tasty snack from Dumpling Darling.
With the smell of butterscotch wafting down the sidewalk we were lured inside The Great American Popcorn Co where we tasted fresh, warm and irresistible caramel corn.
Our day wrapped up in the Czech Village browsing through the shops and dinner (and beer of course) at the hip and friendly Lion Bridge Brewery. Because I just couldn't seem to get enough coffee, I opted to try the Coffee Compensation. Loved it!! It was sooo tempting to stay longer and sample more craft beer, but it was time to return home.
Sometimes you gotta get away. Sometimes you only have a day to do it. Thank goodness for Cedar Rapids.