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Things To Do
Linn County Conservation strives to provide opportunities and access for all residents to experience nature to improve their health and quality of life. Available to the public are 29 areas that provide over 100 miles of multi-use trail, 450 campsites, an observatory managed by a local astronomy group, a nature center at Wickiup Hill for conservation education, a modern shooting range, a historic schoolhouse, an arboretum, a watercraft rental facility and so much more. There's plenty to see and do...and explore at your leisure!
Biking and Hiking
An extensive trail system is managed throughout the county providing numerous options. Whether it be the 68 mile Cedar Valley Nature Trail between Waterloo connecting Johnson County, or mountain biking at Wanatee Park. Maybe you just want to take a stroll in the outdoors and see what nature has to offer.
Visit our Parks, Trails, and Natural Areas page and we'll see you along the trail!
Boat ramps with access to the Wapsipinicon River include Pinicon Ridge Park, Matsell Bridge Natural Area, Troy Mills River Access, and Wakpicada Natural Area. Cedar River boat access is at Chain Lakes Natural Area, North Cedar Natural Area, and South Cedar Natural Area. A kayak launch is available at Buffalo Creek Park.
Modern campgrounds with electricity and water are located at Buffalo Creek Park, Morgan Creek Park, Pinicon Ridge Park and Wanatee Park. Additional primitive (non-modern) camping areas include Wakpicada, Matsell Bridge Natural Area, and Matsell Bridge Natural Area equestrian campground. Wickiup Hill Learning Center also has a pack-in primitive campsite. Group camping areas are located at Pinicon Ridge Park and Morgan Creek Park. Most all camping areas are first come-first served with self-registration. Only Wanatee Park A-Loop, Group Camping, and Wickiup Hill Learning Center are reservable online. Visit our Camping page for additional information.
Dogs (off-leash areas)
Pets are required to be leashed at all times within Linn County Conservation parks, except in designated off-leash areas. These off-leash areas include:
- Buffalo Creek Park: Trail north of the Campground
- Morgan Creek Park: West of first parking lot at E Ave main entrance across the bridge over Morgan Creek .
- Pinicon Ridge Park: On island west of Watercraft Concession
- Wanatee Park: East of Red Cedar Lodge
For more information, see 461A.45 Animals on leash and Section 6 of County Park Rules of Rules and Regulations
Matsell Bridge Natural area provides over 10 miles of horseback riding opportunities along multi-use trails. A nearby equestrian campground featuring hitching posts and space situated with direct access to the trails in the area. Horses are not allowed on the designated trails for them during December firearms deer-hunting season. Wanatee Park offers a 4 mile-multi-use trail that winds through a variety of vegetation types ranging from open meadows to brushy creek bottoms to mature timber. Horses are allowed along the Grant Wood Trail. Wakpicada Natural Area provides a trail for horses and primitive camping.
In addition to the boat ramp access areas listed above along the Wapsipinicon and Cedar Rivers, Pinicon Ridge Park provides plenty of opportunities along the river and back waters within the park.
Linn County Conservation makes available 4500 acres available for public hunting. Our areas are included in the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Hunting Atlas.
The Matsell Bridge Shooting Range features a 200, 100, and the pistol-only 50 and 15 yard ranges. A daily or annual permit is required for use. Visit the Matsell Bridge Shooting Range page for more details.
Located within Pinicon Ridge Park, the concession provides in-park rentals of paddleboats, canoes and kayaks. Calm backwater channels and the slow-flowing Wapsipinicon River provide miles of water trails throughout the park. Volleyballs, horseshoes and various snacks are also available at the concession for a nominal fee. Canoe shuttle trips for 2, 4 and 6 hour floats down the Wapsi are also offered (advance reservations required). The Watercraft Concession is typically open Memorial Day - Labor Day, pending weather and/or river conditions, and staffing levels.
Winter provides a unique perspective and highlights the changing beauty to the outdoors. The colder months of the year allow for hiking, snowshoeing, wildlife watching, photography, and much more.
The sledding hill next to Red Cedar Lodge at Wanatee Park also includes a warming shelter equipped with a woodburning stove (wood not included) and restroom. You can also try a hill by Woodpecker Lodge at Pinicon Ridge Park.
Linn County conservation makes available nearly 16 miles of cross-country ski trails. 4" of snow and other factors are required for grooming skate and classic tracks.