116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CORALVILLE — If you want an example of how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected recreation, look no farther than the Clear Creek Trail.
According to counts done just west of Coralville, the trail saw a spike from 150 users a day before the pandemic to 350 users a day during it, according to Brad Friedhof, conservation program manager for Johnson County.
“That’s unbelievable,” Friedhof said. “People were using it to go out and exercise. Some people were just burned out, so they go for a walk on the trail. Trails and parks really lived up to their goals when COVID hit.”
The 4.3-mile paved trail that runs along Clear Creek in Coralville is set to be extended in the coming years, reaching more destinations and providing more recreation activities. Next year, Friedhof said, the county hopes to begin construction on a 2.3-mile portion that would run from Half Moon Avenue in Tiffin to F.W. Kent Park. The $3 million extension would include a bridge over Buffalo Creek and a pedestrian underpass under Highway 6.
“We want to get people away from the roadway as much as possible,” Friedhof said.
Kent Park is a 1,052-acre county park west of Tiffin. It’s home to camping, additional trails, fishing and other recreational opportunities.
Friedhof said the extension would be finished in 2023. But at that time, it would not yet connect to the main Clear Creek Trail. The city of Coralville has plans to add a 1.9-mile extension to Tiffin’s portion of the trail, but that work has been tied to the Interstate 80/380 interchange reconstruction since the trail will cross under interstate bridges. The entire trail is scheduled to be complete in 2024 or 2025, Friedhof said.
Even without a connection to Coralville, Friedhof said the new portion of the trail would mean big things for Tiffin. Officials have seen in communities such as Solon how a bike trail can be a boon for small towns.
“We hope to see the same trend” in Tiffin, he said. “Families come here, hit John’s Ice Cream in Tiffin ... or hit The Depot and grab a pizza.”
Long-term, Friedhof said the county would like to see the trail extend even farther west. His “big dream” is a network of trails spanning from Solon to the north, West Branch to the east and the Amana Colonies to the west.
“We want this to be a destination,” he said. “People really like active destinations. Being able to squeeze a couple of days in on cool bike rides, that’s what people are looking to do.”
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