Woodpecker Nature Trail was 15 minutes north of downtown Iowa City, Iowa. From I-80: we took exit 244 for Dubuque St north toward Coralville Lake, turned right onto W Overlook Road, and looked for the trailhead on the left. Parking was free and had a restroom but no water. Recreation included hiking, trail running, and dog walking but bikes and horses were not allowed. My cell phone service was at a medium strength. The bottom right corner of the following Google Map shows a loop we hiked on trails (W-5, W-1, and W-3) and a larger loop on (W-6, W-1, and W-3).
In August, 2013 we revisited and did a longer clockwise loop of 1.4 miles on W-6, W-1, and W-3.
From the parking lot, we started on the trail farthest to the left (i.e., west).
It was wide and smooth, except near the lake where there were some steps.
This larger loop had more vantage points with which to see the lake.
We crossed two bridges.
After crossing the second one, we started to overlap with the shorter loop (described later).
On this visit, one of the highlights for the kids was seeing a dead mouse.
In September 2011, we hiked a 1.0 mile clockwise loop on W-5, W-1, and W-3 with a change in elevation less than 100 feet.
It started with steps that led us down to Coralville Lake. At the base of the steps, we stayed to the right (i.e., headed east) on the Woodpecker Nature Trail. You can make a left turn (i.e., head west) to connect with the Squire Point trail system. We limited ourselves to a one mile loop because we wanted the hike to be fun and easy for our 4.5 year old. On the other hand, trail runners and dog walkers can design a longer route through both the WoodPecker Nature Trail and Squire Point networks.
The northwest corner of the loop was a rocky overlook that had a park bench and offered a panoramic view of the lake.
Near the northwest corner was an interesting three dimensional structure with a table and seats made from wood. It was a fun place to have a snack, especially for kids. This is what it looked like in 2011.
And, this is what it looked like 2013.
The trails were ideal for a quick hike with kids and dogs because they were wide, mostly smooth, and gradually sloping.
It was smooth enough such that our 2.5 year old ran around most of the larger loop and only fell down a couple of times.
At the northeast corner of the loop, we made a right turn and went up some steps.
After the steps, there was a new wood maze structure that wasn’t there in 2011.
The last stretch was a gently sloping ascent atop a wide straightaway.
In sum, the Woodpecker Nature Trail has been a fun place for us to visit for a quick family adventure because it was close to downtown Iowa City and easy for the kids. The Cedar Valley Nature Trail and Ryerson’s Woods Park are two nearby hikes of similar length and difficulty.