Route Overview





Days Out


Recommended Tire Size

1.4`` to 2.0``


April to

Elevation Gain



4/10 Physical
2/10 Technical

Primary Surface(s)

~60% smooth gravel
~30% paved

Route Map

Route Details

The State Park Trio route is on lightly trafficked gravel roads with just enough hills to provide beautiful vistas, cemeteries for the history buffs in us all and swimming holes to keep you cool on hot summer days.

Highlights include:

  • Riding over the Historic Sutliff Bridge
  • Small county parks that not even many Iowans are familiar with
  • Bluff Lake Catfish Farm (only open Fri, Sat, Sun)
  • Hiking trails to explore all 3 parks
  • Swimming at Deep Lakes Park (an old sand quarry filled with clear and cold spring water)
  • Views of the Mississippi River
  • Cynful Smokehouse and Creamery
  • Lover’s leap swinging bridge
  • Antojito’s Carmen (it is like visiting Mexico)
  • Big Grove Brewery and Taproom to start and finish the route

Iowa may not be the 1st place you think of for a bike tour, but with a little planning it can be a near perfect place to ride bikes can camp every season, except winter.

Of course, there are lots of farms, and you will see more animals than people. Along every creek, river, hill and small town you will find plenty of large trees.

The State of Iowa is last in federal public land and second to last in state public lands. It does however have over 70,000 miles of gravel/dirt roads. Most of these roads are so lightly trafficked that you can always ride the best line. No technical bike handling skills or expertise required.

With relaxed riding comes easy resupply. You are never too far from the ubiquitous Casey’s General Store or other convenience stores. Each small town you pass through also has local establishments serving up all the hospitality and Midwestern charm you need.

Camping is the part that may require a bit of planning, because it is less flexible than places with more public land. Mid-week tours may not require reservations, but weekends can get busy, so plan ahead. If you have been on rides with dispersed camping and felt like you were roughing it, then you are in for a treat. Water, bathrooms (with showers), picnic tables, fire rings (wood available for purchase) and hiking trails are the norm.

  • Paved: 29%
  • Smooth Gravel: 60%
  • Rough Gravel: 10%
  • 4×4 Road: 1.0%
  • Singletrack: 0%
The route RideWithGPS file has numerous waypoints indicating camping locations, re-supply, swimming spots and cautions for busy road crossings.


Please see the RideWithGPS file.

Connect with Chad on Instagram @thegravelscouts

Chad Mason created the State Park Trio route. Here’s a little bit about Chad in his own words:

I am the leader/organizer of a local community cycling club called The Gravel Scouts. We go on a handful of overnight trips annually and all of those routes are curated by me. In addition to overnights we have shorter weekly rides and longer weekend rides. All of these routes are created by myself. I have lived in Iowa City, the start/finish of this route, for 19 years and in Eastern Iowa for nearly 35 years. Most of my riding is out my back door. My brother Matt Mason gave me the encouragement to put Iowa on the Bikepacking map and my good friend and photographer David Greedy is always willing to scout the route with me.”

Chad has offered to be available to answer questions if you are planning a trip on this route. We encourage you to be respectful of Route Stewards time though and to review publicly available materials first before reaching out with questions.

Please also get in touch with any updates on route conditions that may be relevant to other riders.

Please submit your questions and comments on the route via the contract form below.

    This route traverses the traditional lands of the Ioway, Kickapoo, Sauk and Fox, Peoria peoples.