Biking and paddling have a natural connection. Both are typically powered by human energy alone and are natural forms of transportation. They are sustainable activities as they use existing paths, including rivers, roads and trails built along former railroads. The only energy you’ll require is the great food you will find along the way.
In Iowa there is a huge number and variety of options for connecting bikes and rivers. Across the state, you can paddle a canoe or kayak, catch a ride on a river boat, and bike on trails and roads that often parallel rivers. Iowa’s roads and trails are typically well-marked and, with the increasing number of water trails, we enjoy some well-marked rivers and access points.
Here are some ideas for biking and paddling:
1. Choose a destination where you can paddle one day and cycle the next. We provide outfitter contacts in case you haven’t bought your own canoe or kayak yet!
2. Combine a bike and river trip with a bike shuttle. Drop a bike at the river access where you will take out your boat and then drive to the put-in. Enjoy your float trip and then, at the take-out, hop on your bike and cycle back to the start point. If your canoe is large enough, you also can carry your bike on board, choose any take-out, and bike back to the put-in. Make sure you lock your bike!
Bob Brammer notes, “I’ve done this solo several times. A favorite location is the Des Moines River between Highway 30 west of Boone and Highway 210 west of Madrid. I take one or both wheels off the bike and strap the bike in the bow of the canoe. Sometimes I’ll camp on a sandbar or bike back via county roads after getting off the river. Taking the bike with you allows some flexibility on where to take out. Another variation is to do the shuttle first. Leave your canoe and gear at the put-in, drive with your bike to the take-out and park the car nearby. Then cycle back to the put-in, stow your bike in the canoe and float to the take-out. One disadvantage, if it’s a solo trip, is leaving gear unattended for a short time. However, a bike shuttle is usually only an hour or two for a pleasant 8 to 12-mile river trip. The advantage is that the shuttle is done before you start the paddle trip.”