I've been fortunate this past month to travel through southeast Iowa for my job. Don't tell my boss, but I took an extra long lunch break in Fairfield to check out the town's new trail system.
The trails, which are a combination of limestone paths and shared roadways, circle the town of Fairfield. The easiest access point for me was to visit Chautaugua Park on the east side of town along Highway 34.
I parked my truck next to a cute little rose garden, which was still in bloom despite the changing seasons.
I have to admit, I'm terrible at reading maps. I rode my bike around the park twice before I found the entrance to the trail. For some reason, I missed the big sign leading to the entrance. (I would never survive long in the woods with my sense of direction.)
I crossed the wooden bridge and decided to follow the trail north.
I was immediately struck by all the natural beauty. I felt like I was riding my bike in a wide-open Iowa prairie. It was so peaceful. And there were birds, butterflies and wildflowers in every direction.
A few hundred yards into my ride, I noticed a bridge pop from the horizon.
I discovered the restored Burlington-Northern Santa Fe railroad bridge.
The bridge was decorated with engraving-style artwork along its length. It looks like the artwork depicts the history of the railroad track and its impact on the town. My favorite, of course, was the ag-related art.
Unfortunately at this point, my camera batteries went dead. Bummer. So I rode my bike a few miles, then managed to sneak in two more pictures when the batteries "charged" enough for me to turn on the camera.
I have to tell you, this was such an amazing journey for me. I still can't believe that I was able to spend a few mintues surrounded in such a peaceful prairie setting. It was definitely worth a few mintues of "playing hookie" on a work day.
If you would like to venture on the Fairfield bike trails, check out the Jefferson County Trail System website for a map and more information.