The second annual Loess Hills Parks & Peaks Bicycle Tour was held September 4-8 in western Iowa's scenic Loess Hills region. The ride began at Lewis & Clark State Park near Onawa. Riders were treated to a keelboat ride and program about Lewis & Clark's expedition on Wednesday evening and camped at the park.
Thursday morning, riders passed through Onawa on their way to the R.T. Reese Homestead cabin, where Monona County Conservation Board naturalist Andrea Porter led a program about Loess Hills flora & fauna. From there, the route went through Turin, Moorhead, and on to the Loess Hills State Forest Brent S. Olson Memorial Visitor Center in Pisgah. Several riders rode to Preparation Canyon State Park and the surrounding State Forest.
From Pisgah, riders were routed west to Murray Hill, through Little Sioux, River Sioux, and Mondamin, Missouri Valley, and Honey Creek, ending at Hitchcock Nature Center for the evening. Natural Resource Specialist Chad Graeve led a hike and discussed conservation and stewardship in the Loess Hills.
On Saturday, participants took backroads through Crescent and Council Bluffs, where they joined up with the Wabash Trace Nature Trail. The trail took riders through Mineola, Silver City, and Malvern. the final overnight stop.
Sunday, the final day, passed through Tabor and Thurman before ending at Waubonsie State Park.
The riders had great weather and got to experience many of the most scenic parks and roads in the Loess Hills region while learning what the Loess Hills are and why they matter. Golden Hills is expecting to host the ride for the third time in 2020, coinciding with the Iowa State Parks Centennial.
Golden Hills would like to thank all the riders and everyone who made the ride a success! Special shoutout to the following sponsors and supporters:
The Nature Conservancy; Iowa Department of Natural Resources; Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation; Monona County Conservation Board; Loess Hills Bed & Breakfast; Pottawattamie County Conservation Board; Iowa Bicycle Coalition; SRAM; Malvern Liberty Memorial Board; Dave's Old Home; Moreau's Backerei & Pizzeria; and more! This project was made possible in part by a funding award from the National Park Service and Outdoor Foundation.