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Download an Iowa MRT map (513 KB pdf). This map is for general orientation purposes only. It indicates the current status of the route, whether completed with signs on the ground, proposed, or still under development. Check back to this page for segment descriptions as they become available.

  • Proposed segments are being planned and have been assessed as generally rideable. Cyclists should use atlases and other sources to identify road routes.
  • Segments under development are marked in red and indicate dangerous cycling conditions. Bicyclists should proceed with extreme caution.

Resources & Links

  • Visit Travel Mississippi River for the BEST information on travel opportunities between Dubuque, Iowa, and Quincy, Illinois.
  • Getting to the MRT in Iowa is relatively easy. Iowa DOT's bike map contains good detail. Cities along the MRT with more detailed maps available at this link include Burlington, Clinton, Dubuque, Muscatine, and the Quad Cities (follow city links to Chambers of Commerce sites).
  • -- current information on bike shops, rides, and clubs throughout the state.
  • Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation
  • Quad Cities Bicycle Club
  • Naturally Louisa County
  • Mississippi River Parkway Commission

Sense of Place

At the border with Minnesota, the MRT crosses into Iowa and almost immediately comes to New Albin, a small community with deep historic connections to the river. New Albin and other small communities like it dot the MRT in extreme northeastern Iowa, as the road winds up and down rolling hills through a landscape that is mostly wooded. Farther south, the MRT route passes Effigy Mounds National Monument; a unit of the National Park Service that protects and interprets bluff top mounds in the shape of different animals, created by Native people centuries ago. The twin communities of McGregor and Marquette nestle snugly between the hills and the river, and the MRT traverses them as it continues south.

Northeastern Iowa contains some of the most spectacular scenic views along the northern stretches of the MRT, and perhaps nowhere are these views as magnificent as in Dubuque County. Steeply rolling hills and long-settled farming country form the landscape as the MRT carries the rider from one breathtaking summit to another. The city of Dubuque, long an industrial center and now rapidly becoming a tourist destination, lies along the river among the hills of the region. The MRT winds along Dubuque's historic streets and past its waterfront before taking the rider back out into the hill country again.

South of Dubuque, between here and the Quad City region, the MRT traverses open farmland, interspersed with wooded areas. Here the dramatic hills to the north have given way to a more pastoral landscape of farms and small towns. The river is never too far away, though it is not the dominating presence it was farther north.

The Quad Cities region of Illinois and Iowa—Davenport and Bettendorf Iowa, and Rock Island and Moline in Illinois—has been a center of river activity for decades. From these riverfronts, the plows of John Deere and other manufacturers went up and down river to work the nation's farmland. Now those same riverfronts are becoming dynamic engines for the region's growing tourist and visitor economy. Here the MRT follows the network of trails collectively known as RiverWay, nearly 100 miles of trails that connect natural areas with downtowns, and that connect the two states through a distinctive water taxi system. A particularly notable feature of the RiverWay system is the public art that can be found at several points throughout the area.

South of the Quad Cities, between Davenport and Keokuk on the Missouri border, the MRT follows a network of county and state roads through farm country and several small cities. Each community—Muscatine, Burlington, Fort Madison are among the larger ones—has a beautiful downtown, and most have local trail systems into which the MRT connects. The juxtaposition of farm fields and small town shipping facilities reminds MRT riders of the continued importance of the Mississippi to the Midwest's farmers.

Iowa has a rich and diverse history that dates back probably some 10,000 years, when the earliest inhabitants first came into this area after the retreat of the glaciers. The following sites have information about the state and region, as well as about the Mississippi River:

  • State Historical Society of Iowa is the state's primary holder of historical and cultural information.
  • Effigy Mounds National Monument a unit of the National Park Service in northeast Iowa, is the location of important and spectacular prehistoric mounds shaped like animal effigies.
  • Mississippi River Museum in Dubuque is a great location for "all things Mississippi River."
  • Iowa Department of Natural Resources manages state parks, forests, and recreation areas along the Mississippi River.

Take Note

Designation or identification of the Mississippi River Trail is not a guarantee that the route will be safe for all riders under all conditions. The Mississippi River Trail descriptions are intended at this point for use by experienced long-distance bicyclists. Users ride at their own risk, and understand that they will commonly be sharing the road with motorized vehicular traffic. No liability, expressed or implied, is assumed by Mississippi River Trail Inc. for any result occasioned by use of these descriptive documents.

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