Sports & Recreation

7 Cedar Valley Parks to Visit this Summer


posted on Monday, April 22, 2019

In celebration of Earth Day, we would like to give you a list of some outdoor recreational areas to visit this summer. The Cedar Valley has some wonderful state and county parks to experience. Whether you want to enjoy the beautiful scenery or participate in something more active, the Cedar Valley has a park to fit your needs.

Parks_Big WoodsBig Woods Lake

Big Woods Lake Recreation Area
1501 E Lake St, Cedar Falls

The man-made lake was created by sand and gravel extraction. The area includes a 65-acre lake, 10 acres of natural prairie, a campground offering RV and tent camping, and a nature trail that surrounds the lake connecting to other Cedar Valley trails. Other amenities include disc golf, one cabin, shelter houses, boat ramps and no-wake boating, kayak launch, and restrooms. Cross-country ski is available here in the winter.

Black Hawk Park
2410 W Lone Tree Rd, Cedar Falls

This park is named after Chief Black Hawk of the Sauk Indian tribe who had a great love of nature. This park was the first park acquired by the Black Hawk Conservation board in 1957. The park is now one of the largest county parks in Iowa with 1,490 acres forming the Cedar River Wildlife Area. The park offers camping, fishing, hunting, boat ramps, river access, playground, shelters and access to the Cedar Valley Nature trails.

Hartman Reserve Nature Center's Interpretive Center

Hartman Reserve Nature Center
657 Reserve Dr, Cedar Falls

Hartman Reserve was created in 1976 and is known for its Maple Syrup Festival with syrup made from their own sap. The reserve is designated as an Iowa Watchable Wildlife Site and an important bird area. It is located in the center of the Cedar Falls-Waterloo area. Their Interpretive Center houses displays and exhibits that help explain the local environment. The Cedar Valley nature trails run through the park and there is also access to fishing, boat ramps; and in the winter, cross country skiing and snowshoeing is available.

Hickory Hills
3338 Hickory Hills Rd, La Porte City

Hickory Hills is a unique area totaling 723 acres. It has an unusual geologic feature: a Paha. Paha is a Native American word meaning high ground. Casey’s Paha was dedicated as a State Preserve in 1989. For you fishing buffs, Hickory Hills is one of Northeast Iowa’s premier largemouth bass hot spots! The park features camping, cabins, swimming, picnic areas with shelters, sand volleyball, disc golf, nature trails, and a wildlife exhibit area. In the winter, there is sledding, ice skating, and cross-country skiing.

McFarlane Park
13619 King Rd, La Porte City

This park is named after a local conservationist, Arch McFarlane. It is heavily timbered, providing visitors with shade and habitat for wildlife. The eastern portion of the park is owned by the State and offers hunting. The western portion is owned by Black Hawk County, and though you cannot hunt in this portion, there is access to nature trails, wetland, boat ramp, camping, playground, restrooms, shelters, picnic areas, and in the winter cross-country skiing.

Siggelkow Park
9905 Fairbank Rd, Fairbank

This park is located along the Wapsipinicon River and is the first entrance to the Wapsi River Water Trails in Black Hawk County. The fall colors make for a great late season camping experience. The area offers camping, fishing, hiking, bird watching, and water trail access.

Parks_George Wyth
Cedar Valley Trails through George Wyth State Park 

George Wyth State Park
3659 Wyth Rd, Waterloo

George Wyth was the founder and first president of Viking Pump Company in Cedar Falls back in 1911. He was very involved with the Cedar Falls park system and this park is named after him to honor his outstanding support of public recreation. There is even a lake named after his wife, Alice. The Cedar Valley nature trails run through George Wyth. It also has camping, fishing, boat ramps, playgrounds, restrooms, shelters, and a swimming beach. 

Hopefully, this list has inspired you to get out an enjoy some great outdoor activities. For a complete list of sports and recreational activities in the Cedar Valley, please visit the Parks & Recreation section of our website. Or, if you're looking to extend your outdoor adventures beyond the Cedar Valley, visit Travel Iowa's "99 Counties, 99 Parks" page.

- Annette Freeseman, Experience Waterloo
- Photos credit: Experience Waterloo stock photos and Beth Keeney

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  5. george wyth state park
  6. hartman reserve nature center
  7. hickory hills
  8. mcfarlane park
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  12. siggelkow park
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