“A good in-town trail, taking advantage of UI's XC course and the Clear Creek off road trails.”
— chris kilgore
Birding · River/Creek · Wildflowers · Wildlife
This is a nice route if your goal is to grab some trail miles in town. There is nothing too strenuous here and hikers will enjoy the scenery. This route takes in a little over a mile of the Ashton Cross Country course which is a big open field although shielded by trees on all sides, and completes the Clear Creek Greenway
natural surface singletrack trails which are a hidden gem in a section of forest paralleling Hwy 6 in Coralville.
Need to Know
There's a bathroom with running water at the Clear Creek trailhead. There's a port-o-potty at the Ashton parking lot most of the year. Be mindful of dog walkers on the CC course and off road bikers on the singletrack. The off road cycling group developed and maintained those trails, and thus I always give them the right away when encountering them on trails.... easier for me to slow down/stop/start than for them.
This trail begins and ends at the parking lot of the University of Iowa's Ashton Cross Country Course. From the parking lot, start out heading east, and stay around the perimeter of the course. The cross country course is essentially a mowed grass path, but it's pretty well maintained, and there is a detectable track running through the path of least resistance.
As you reach the northern end of Ashton, you'll begin to parallel the paved Clear Creek Greenway
. Where the paved trail T-intersects, look for a worn foot path between the mowed path you're navigating on, and the paved trail. Cut over to the paved trail, and take the spur section over the footbridge crossing Clear Creek. About 50 meters beyond the bridge, there's an unmarked singletrack cutting into the woods on the left side of the trail. Enter here and stay on until you reach the parking lot on the opposite end off of Camp Cardinal Blvd (note you could also start the route here, especially if you only wanted to complete the singletrack, about 2.25 miles).
There are a couple intersecting trails on that first stretch, this route takes no sharp turns, but feel free to explore, everything ends up back on the main trail. At the Camp Cardinal trailhead make your way up the boat ramp toward the parking lot and stay along the woods. Look for the path back into the woods to your right. Complete this stretch when you return to the paved spur trail. (Note: just before you reach the spur trail, turn right on an intersecting singletrack. Then turn left at the next intersection of trail, and you'll come out of the woods where you went in.)
Retrace your steps over the footbridge and back onto the Ashton CC course and turn right, again staying along the outside edge. As you reach the western edge of the park and turn back south, you'll come to the top of a rise and see the southern section of the course in front of you. To make it right around 4 miles, I usually cut in through the wide open swath that ends at the parking lot. To add another .25 you can stay along the outside edge of the course and will arrive at the parking lot after making a complete loop of the CC course.
Flora & Fauna
The usual Iowa fare.