As I’m writing this blog, I know that the calendar reads April, but outside my window I see a whole lot of snow. Get it together Iowa weather!
Despite the snow, I want to share with you four fabulous spring outings for young families in Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, and surrounding communities. These are locations my family enjoys so much that the kids ask to go back again and again. We’ve done these hikes with baby in a carrier to get some fresh air and also with toddler and big kid siblings along.
Devonian Fossil Gorge - Flood waters tore through this area by the Coralville dam back in 1993 and again in 2008, exposing fossils from the Devonian period. The spring sees the formation of shallow (and delightful) mucky pools that teem with tadpoles. Several fossils are marked with numbered plaques, and even more fossils can be spotted throughout the whole gorge. If you have young walkers, pack an extra change of clothes. This is an adventure where little explorers are sure to investigate the water and muck. The gorge itself isn’t stroller-friendly, though the Tailwater Riverwalk just south of the gorge is paved and wide if you are looking for a short stroll.
Squaw Creek Park - We like to park in the day-use area by the Meadowlark shelter and take the trail that leads into the woods. This dirt path is not suitable for strollers, so you will want carriers for any babies or little walkers who may tire. Adults and little kids up for a short hike can make an out and back at any point. If you’re up for some exercise, continue on to make a loop through prairie, wetlands, and back up some hills on grass trail. After your hike you can enjoy the day-use playground or drive over to the campground to enjoy one of the nicest playgrounds in the county.
Indian Creek Nature Center - This nature center’s trail system showcases prairie, woodlands, and wetlands. The Wood Duck Way Trail (across the street from the Nature Center building) is a particular favorite of little walkers, giving them the chance to peer into shallow water and touch cattails. ICNC also includes a fabulous outdoor classroom - perfect for making mud pies, stick shelters, and self-guided play.
Looking for more options to get outside with little ones? The corridor area is home to two branches of the national organization Hike it Baby. Connect with Hike it Baby IC and Hike it Baby CR on Facebook.
Pregnant or newly postpartum and looking for more support as you get into a groove with your new little one? Nested Mama offer prenatal support services as well as day and overnight postpartum support to families in Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, and surrounding communities. Connect with Nested Mama on Facebook.
Johanna received a Ph.D. in English in 2014. Now a postpartum doula and educator of childbirth, breastfeeding, and infant sleep, she blogs about pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and parenting.