The Cedar Valley Nature Trail is located within the Sugar Bottom Recreation Area in North Liberty, Iowa. Directions: follow signs leading into Sugar Bottom and then look for one of three marked parking areas on the right side of the road. Parking for this trail is free but does not include water or restrooms, both of which can be found near the disc golf course and beach. Hiking, dog walking, and hunting for mushrooms are popular activities on this trail. Mountain biking and horseback riding are not allowed. Cell phone service can be limited in this area.
The Cedar Valley Nature Trail is 1.4 miles long with a gradual change in elevation of 80 feet. We started from the north parking lot and hiked to south parking lot.
It is primarily smooth, gently sloping, and well shaded. All three of those characteristics make it an ideal place for people of all ages to visit. We had a three year old and a five year old in our group. They walked almost the entire way and only wanted to be carried on the last uphill stretch. We had an adult walk back to our car and drive it down to the south parking lot because hiking out and back was too far for the kids.
There are very few rocks on the trail but there is one large outcrop that is fun to inspect.
There are several bridges of various sizes. In addition, there are a couple of park benches with which to enjoy a peaceful picnic.
The following Dutchman’s breeches was located on the edge of the trail. It is a common Iowa wildflower that blossoms in the Spring.
The PDF map on the Army Corps of Engineers web site includes a side trail named Butterfly Run that looks like it gets close enough to the shoreline for an unobstructed view of the lake. I did not see it so I’m don’t know if it was closed or if I missed it. In lieu of an unobstructed view, there are a couple of spots in which you can experience an obstructed view of the lake.
Although it has narrow segments, the trail seems like a great place to walk a dog.
In sum, the Cedar Valley Natural Trail is a fun and easy hike for families and dog owners. It offers a peaceful experience with interesting wildflowers. Squire Point and Woodpecker Nature Trail are two other places near Coralville Lake that I recommend hiking.