Tucked away in the charming city of Decorah, Iowa, are the Prairie and Pines trails—ideal spots for those looking to dip their toes into mountain biking. With a total distance of 3 miles, these trails offer a breezy, non-intimidating experience without sacrificing the fun factor. They're perfect for beginners or anyone seeking a warm-up ride before tackling the more challenging Van Peenen trails.
Navigating to Prairie and Pines is straightforward. Starting from downtown Decorah, head towards Quarry Street via College Drive and continue on Ice Cave Road. About a mile down the road, you'll come to a four-way stop where the parking lot is located. A pro tip: pick up a trail map from Decorah Bicycles on College Drive. The trails are situated at the top of a steep hill. The easiest ascent is via Quarry Hill Road, marked by a sign about a mile from the parking lot. For those seeking a harder but more entertaining route, the trails can also be accessed via the Van Peenen - Blue Trails.
Prairie and Pines offer two distinct biking experiences. The Prairie trail, shared with horses, consists of a wide, mowed grass path with a 6-12 inch beaten dirt track in the center. It's essentially a series of rolling hills and straight segments, free from roots and rocks. Contrarily, Pines East and West slice through pine forests, offering a bit of shade and a few roots to navigate. Both are extremely flowy, allowing you to maintain a high level of speed with ease.
According to local cyclists, these trails are well-marked and easy to navigate. They're excellent options for a warm-up ride or an introduction to mountain biking in Decorah. The Prairie loop offers a full-sun experience with rolling hills, while both Pines trails provide a more sheltered ride through the trees without being too technical.
Prairie and Pines serve as excellent gateways to the mountain biking culture in Decorah, Iowa. Ideal for newcomers or those seeking a leisurely experience, these trails offer just enough variety to keep things interesting. The well-marked paths and relatively flat terrains make them accessible, yet they deliver enough curves and minor technical elements to ensure that even the seasoned rider won't get bored. So why wait? Grab that bike and come discover what Prairie and Pines have in store.