Along the banks of the Cedar River, with an elevation of 948 feet, is a community investment and soon to be recreation destination that is affectionately referred to as Mount Trashmore — a man-made mountain in the heart of the Cedar Rapids downtown area.
On Thursday, the Cedar Rapids Linn County Solid Waste Agency will open the Mount Trashmore trails and overlook to the community, following a ribbon cutting at 1 p.m. This will mark the end of years of planning and construction work, and the beginning of what the agency’s board of directors and staff are preparing to be a welcoming destination location for Linn County.
Editor’s note: The Mount Trashmore ribbon cutting has been postponed because of flood prevention and staging efforts on A Street SW. A new date and time will be selected once the street is reopened.
Seventy acres of recreational options include Stumptown Trail, a 5,000-foot-long walking and hiking trail that goes around the base of Mount Trashmore, works its way up the hill, and is named for the former neighborhood that once stood at the site. The multiuse Overlook Trail is for hikers and bicyclists and goes to the top of Mount Trashmore. Then there is the Trashmore Trail, a 4,000-foot-long flow-trail for bicyclists only, which starts at the top, and features cutbacks and mounds to provide a fun and challenging ride downhill. Also at the top, a scenic overlook with a pergola and terraced seating providing a one-of-a-kind view of the Cedar River, Czech Village, NewBo, downtown Cedar Rapids, and beyond.
The overlook and trails are unique, but still are part of a state-regulated system; not a park. There are rules and regulations that must be followed, so access to the trails and overlook will be limited and monitored. For example, there are gas collection wells throughout the site for methane capture. Guests will be required to stay on the trails and follow the posted rules.
Mount Trashmore was capped in 2007, but reopened after the devastating flood of 2008. The debris from the flood raised it another 30 feet into the sky before it was capped with finality-after taking in half a century of garbage.
Our mountain is a memorial, a monument, a reminder of our resiliency. It remains a point of interest. Students from school districts across Linn County have toured the site to learn about the composting process and landfill history. Community groups from all over have held walks, runs and bike rides up to the top of Mount Trashmore.
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In recent years, the pink ribbon celebrating the Especially for You Race Against Breast Cancer has been painted on its sides. Now, with the overlook and trails, there are sure to be more community events scheduled around this beautiful space.
The Solid Waste Agency board of directors and staff hope the years of planning, budgeting and work to get to this point — Mount Trashmore’s historic transformation from a quarry to a landfill to a community focal point — is just the beginning.
Please join us at the ribbon-cutting at 1 p.m. Thursday as we turn the page, beginning a new chapter as a recreation destination.
• Susie Weinacht is chair of the Cedar Rapids Linn County Solid Waste Agency Board and an at-large Cedar Rapids City Council member.