By Cindy Hadish/for Radish Magazine
Watching a bald eagle gracefully soar over meandering waters is one of the prime reasons to take a wintertime walk on the Sac & Fox Trail.
The trail stretches just over 7 miles along the Cedar River and Indian Creek in southeast Cedar Rapids, where you can feel immersed in nature without leaving the city.
My sister introduced me to the Sac & Fox when she worked as a naturalist at the Indian Creek Nature Center, which the trail traverses and is the portion I tend to use.
Since then, I’ve returned with family and friends for cross-country skiing, but have also found a quiet solitude in hiking there, on occasion, when the powdery snow is deep and few people are using the trail.
In this area, towering trees line one side of the Sac & Fox, with the other following the soft curves of Indian Creek, passing under a bridge that adds rustic charm to the scenery.
The Nature Center’s website notes that the Sac & Fox, a relatively level trail with pressed limestone surface, was designated as Iowa’s first National Recreation Trail in 1975. Hiking, cross-country skiing, horseback riding and bicycling are permitted, with motorized vehicles prohibited, helping to preserve the sense of peace found there.
In warm weather, trail users can view a variety of native wildflowers and birds, including my favorite, the blue-feathered indigo bunting, as well as deer and other animals, in all seasons. The Nature Center offers a resting point and a shop to buy local honey, maple syrup and more.
I have yet to see otters sliding down snowbanks into the creek, as others have observed, but witnessing a bald eagle in flight, or peering from lofty tree branches, has been a high point and an awe-inspiring reminder of the importance of wildlife refuges such as these.
Read about other trails from Radish writers at the Radish Magazine.