Take a trip to Prairie Lakes Park and enjoy views of the lakes, native prairies, and associated wildlife. Don’t forget to stop by the Cedar Falls Tourism & Visitors Center and pick up a souvenir! Then, continue your journey through Paw Park along the sparkling Dry Run Creek, to Pfeiffer Springs Park on the west end of Grand Blvd.
This trip is about 10 miles, there and back, with a loop around Prairie Lakes Park. Convenient places to start are Pfeiffer Park on Grand Blvd., at Prairie Lakes Park, or at the Cedar Falls Tourism and Visitor Center at 6510 Hudson Road in Cedar Falls. There is also a small parking lot across from Paw Park at 3200 Main Street that is at about the midpoint on the trail. This loop crosses several other trails on the Cedar Valley Trails System, so there are plenty of opportunities to extend your trip or add it to your own loop! There are a couple of parks along the route and restrooms are available. For this loop description, we’ll start you off at the Cedar Falls Visitor Center, but you can just as easily reverse the direction and start out from Pfeiffer Park.
From the parking lot at the Visitor Center, take the trail and head north down a slight hill. At the bottom of the hill, take a quick right over a short bridge, and then another right and loop around the lake. There are several side paths that take you to different areas of the lakes, so feel free to wander. But once you are ready to proceed, head to the parking lot on the northeast side of the lakes and ride north on the Prairie Lakes Trail. Ride about a quarter mile, then take the path at the intersection to the right (if you go straight here and left, you will just hook around to another loop around the western portion of the lakes). The trail will bend around north again and will then lead you through an underpass to cross Viking Road.
Keep heading north until you get to a “T” intersection in the path, then turn right and head over the Cedar Falls Mayors Bridge that crosses Highway 58 and connects with the Cedar Prairie Trail. Note: You could take this trail south and follow the large Cedar Prairie Loop, if you are up for some more serious miles. But for purposes of this trip, you will continue north on the path.
Once over the bridge, circle around to the right and follow the path north and down a slight hill into a shaded area behind some houses. There is a park to the left here with restrooms and and a Bike Repair Station. Continue again north and through another underpass to cross Greenhill Road. Greenhill Trail connects here and that can take you east and north to the Cedar River and the rest of the trail system.
Continue north for about a mile along the trail past Greenhill Road and you’ll pass through a lovely shaded area along the sparkling Dry Run Creek. This path will eventually end up at a small parking area on Main Street across from Paw Park (Rownd Park). Take the trail to the left and under the bridge to cross Main Street. Then you can either:
Loop around and continue north along the sidewalk to University Avenue Trail where you can take a right, go a short ways across the bridge, and then pick up the trail again heading north under University Avenue. Or,
Take the trail east through Paw Park and head along the northeast side of the park. When the trail ends, just take a left and head to University Avenue Trail where you can cross left again under the freeway and pick up the trail to the left (just before Dry Run Creek).
Once back on the Cedar Prairie Trail heading north, again along the clear and sparkling Dry Run Creek, proceed for a couple more miles, crossing under Seerly Blvd., then 18th Street and then Waterloo Road. You’ll then take a curve under the freeway and ride a short distance to the east ending up at Pfeiffer Park. To extend your trip even further, you can connect here to either the South Riverside Trail, or cross the bridge over the Cedar River to pick up the lengthy Cedar Valley Lakes Trail where you can check out George Wyth Park or head west to the Big Woods Loop.
At the park, there are restrooms, a soda machine, and a bike repair station, so it’s a good place to relax and stretch before turning around and heading back to Prairie Lakes.