Pedal and paddle your way along Iowa's rivers this fall

By Samantha Jones on July 30, 2018 in Blog


Grab a paddle and dip your toes into new outdoor adventures this summer. Pedal-paddling, a combination of biking and kayaking/canoeing is a refreshing way to explore Iowa’s natural corridors. Drop off your bike downstream, drive to the put-in and paddle down the river. Once you arrive at the take-out, shuttle yourself back to the starting point by hopping on your bike and riding along the trail.

“Pedaling and paddling allow Iowans to experience two categories of Iowa’s most wild places – our rivers and our multiuse trails,” said Lisa Hein, INHF senior director of conservation programs.

Iowa offers a wide variety of locations to try pedal/paddling — whether it’s your first time on the water or you’re a seasoned professional. In Des Moines, bike along the Neal Smith trail, then paddle down the Des Moines River — there are several outfitters to rent kayaks or canoes from if you don’t have your own. Or, spend part of the day on the Upper Iowa River, followed by an afternoon biking the Prairie Farmer Trail in Decorah.

Pedal/paddling is a rapidly developing activity in Iowa. The Des Moines Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is expanding local trail routes, while the city of Waterloo plans to build a whitewater park, making it even easier to combine biking and paddling.

“There’s a philosophy that the more people you get outside, the more people will appreciate natural resources,” said Andrea Boulton, INHF trails and greenways director. “Pedal/paddle trails provide that connection between people and the natural resources, and an interest in learning more about them.”