The trend of visiting Iowa State Parks continues (check out my guide to Backbone State Park). This particular park is nicely located next to one of the bigger areas of Iowa, near Waterloo and Cedar Falls. So, why not add a “Visit George Wyth State Park” to your weekend plans?
What is George Wyth State Park?
Unusually from most protected parks, George Wyth was never some undiscovered gem, or far off “middle of nowhere” place, or the home of some rare animal. George Wyth State Park was created in 1956 to serve as an Urban Sanctuary for people and to preserve some land from development.
Now, as the cities of Waterloo and Cedar Falls expand, the park remains as a wonderful place to go on the weekends or after work to get a breath of fresh air in nature.
How to Visit George Wyth State Park
George Wyth State Park is located about 15 minutes away (by car) from Waterloo or Cedar Falls. It’s right off the highway, and the exit signs are well marked.
Once you get inside the park, however, it gets a little more confusing. As you enter, you will likely be sent on a long mile-ish loop alongside the lake. Eventually, you will pass a sign that says “Hiking trails” the takes you to the left, and a parking lot for the lake on the right.
If you are wanting to walk around the lake, or if you brought a boat, the area on the right is the best place to park. If you’re looking to see the Cedar River or do some forest trails, head left. Neither are very far from each other, and honestly you can just walk between them if you don’t feel like moving your car.
Hiking George Wyth State Park
The area is largely flat, so “hiking” might be a bit of a misnomer! However, there are several trails that you can follow. Unfortunately, most are poorly marked and there is no main map to the park posted anywhere. This seems to be a thing Iowa State Parks have in common with each other!
You can find a state park map on the Iowa State Park website, but don’t expect it to help you too much. The names they give the trails are not represented when you actually get there, instead you’ll just see signs like this:
Only the Cottonwood trail is marked with its name. No other identifying information is given (such as how long the trail is, etc.).
The best walk with the highest reward is the one that takes you directly to the Cedar River. Luckily, this path is easy to follow as it is paved. When you pull into the hiking area, just head straight back into the woods and keep walking until you see the river off to your right. The views are absolutely beautiful!
What to Do in George Wyth State Park
As an urban park, they have made it so you can do just about anything you’d like here. It’s all to accommodate different types of people. You can ski, bike, cross country ski, and snowshoe your way down every single trail in the park.
The four different lakes provide good boating, wind surfing, and fishing. There are over 200 different species of birds to potentially see by birdwatchers.
Camping is also an option here. Although, I can’t imagine it would be the most relaxing place given its proximity to the highway. Traffic can be head from most areas of the park. However, for those looking to get their first camping experience under their belt, this could be an excellent choice given its proximity to civilization.