The tri-states features an abundance of places to enjoy walking, hiking, biking, kayaking, canoeing and other fun outdoor activities.
Dubuque maintains a
53-mile bike/hike trail system, which includes 28 miles of
on-street route for biking and 25 miles of paved trails for walking, hiking and biking.
Now that the weather is warmer, it’s time to get out and enjoy. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Walking, hiking and biking
Mines of Spain Recreation Area
Hike or bike along an assortment of trails like the Horseshoe Bluff Interpretive Trail, canoe on Catfish Creek, or pay a visit to the final resting place of the Key City’s founder, Julien Dubuque. Mines of Spain also features interpretive areas and self-guided tours through 1,437 acres of wood and prairieland and 15 acres of wetland. When you’re finished exploring, enjoy a picnic at this national historic landmark.
For more information, visit www.minesofspain.org.
Known as the Upper Midwest’s most scenic all-season trail. Walk or bike the 26-mile route of a former railroad into a 450-foot deep valley past old mining and mill towns.
The gently sloping grade of the mountain trail in prairie country is set in the deep, rugged woodlands. There are numerous river outlooks, sheer limestone bluffs, interpretive sites, railroad artifacts and fossil collecting along the beautiful, crushed-limestone trail. Extensions to existing on-road bike routs in the City of Dubuque connect to existing trail systems at the south of the City.
Enjoy the mighty Mississippi every month of the year. Walk, jog or stroll with your leashed pet or enjoy the view from one of the benches along the walk. The River Walk connects attractions at the Port of Dubuque — from the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium to the Star Brewery Complex. It also connects to the Heritage trail and the nationally-known Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa.
Eagle Point Park
Overlooking the Mississippi River and Lock and Dam No. 11, the park is includes 164 acres and provides a tri-state view of Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. A one-half mile paved bike/hike trail follows the route of the original streetcar service to the park from the Mathias Ham Historic Site parking lot to the turnaround.
John G. Bergfield Recreation Area
Located at 7600 Chavenelle Drive, the area has a 0.8 mile hard-surface walking trail around the fishing pond and a 1.9 mile bike/hike trail.
Swiss Valley Nature Preserve
Several trails, a Department of Natural Resources-stocked trout pond and a nature center welcome hikers, fishing enthusiasts and nature lovers. Located 4.5 miles southwest of Dubuque off U.S. 20 or U.S. 151. The park was named for the original settlers of the area.
See a Swiss Valley Trail map at tinyurl.com/y6ojwugz.
For a map of Dubuque area bike and hiking trails, visit www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1Gl8JkOv1dcSuIR4bOkREDwpYEQ8&hl=en&ll=42.51358998149802%2C-90.62834728417923&z=14.
For more information about Dubuque parks, visit www.cityofdubuque.org/440/Parks.
Skate parks and zip lines
Gerald McAleece Park & Recreation Complex
If the half pipe is more your style, visit McAleece Park. Located at 1801 Admiral Sheehy Drive, on Chaplain Schmitt Memorial Island, the park contains a half pipe area of 20-foot by 40-foot and an 85-foot by 105-foot area for other ramps. BMX biking also is available here.
A second skate area is located in Comiskey Park, 255 E. 24th St.
How about getting your feet off the ground? Skyline Tours Zipline offers a nine zipline course which sails through valleys, ravines, hillsides and bluffs. You’ll hike a short distance on a trail through a wooded area between ziplines. Skyline Tours Zipline is a project of the Dubuque Community YMCA/YWCA. Proceeds are used to advance the mission of the organization in the Dubuque community. Visit www.skytourszipline.com.
Other zipline options include the Soaring Eagle Zipline at Chestnut Mountain Resort in Galena, Ill., or Long Hollow Canopy Tours in Elizabeth, Ill.
Canoeing and kayaking
Dubuque Water Trail
With the Mississippi River flowing nearby, you can travel by canoe or kayak along the river between A.Y. McDonald Park and Massey Marina Park. Access the 11-mile water trail at one of five points: Ramps on the Mississippi River at A.Y. McDonald Park, Schmitt Island and American Trust River’s Edge Plaza in the City of Dubuque and at Massey Marina Park in rural Dubuque County, and the Catfish Creek canoe access in the Mines of Spain State Recreation Area. The Mines of Spain access also provides a five-mile loop on Catfish Creek.
The trail can be enjoyed in its entirety in a day or in segments as time allows. Five access points are offered along the trail, allowing paddler access to the river or an opportunity to exit the river and enjoy on-land recreational opportunities.
For a map of the Dubuque Water Trail, visit www.cityofdubuque.org/DocumentCenter/View/3458/Water-Trail-map-final?bidId=.
Always wanted to try to be more outdoorsy? The Becoming an Outdoor Woman Retreat will introduce you to skills including fishing, hiking, yoga, fire starting, voyageur canoeing and more. The overnight retreat on Thursday-Sunday, June 22-23, is at Mud Lake Park. The cost is $35 per person and pre-registration is required. Participants must bring camping equipment.
For more information, visit dubuquecounty.org/event/becoming-an-outdoor-woman-summer-retreat.
Jill Carlson is a freelance writer from Madison, Wis.