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State Center Loop

Marshall County
Length: 34 miles
Surface: Paved Roads
Parking and Restrooms: Marshalltown City Square

State Center isn’t actually the geographic center of Iowa, but it is known as the Rose Capital of Iowa. Stop and smell them with this loop that begins at the Marshall County Courthouse in Marshalltown.

Head west on Main 13th Street. Turn right on 13th and go three blocks until 13th tees with Summit Street at the Iowa Veterans Home. The road threads under a railroad overpass then curves several times as you ease your way north and west. When you reach Hwy 330, turn north for .5 miles until you reach E29. 330 is a busy and narrow road; use extra caution.

Now, it gets easier. Turn west on E29, pedaling on a steady die of rolling hills until you reach S52. A south turn brings you all the way to State Center. Just after you pass over the railroad tracks, stop at Cissy’s II convenience store for a break.

To leave State Center, turn east on Main Street to 5th Avenue SE, curve to the south, then come to a T with the Old Lincoln Highway, called F36. Continue east, passing the Lincoln Valley Golf Course, county road S62, and the Marshall County Jail complex.

Watch carefully for S70, where you turn north and sail down a long hill, crossing Linn Creek and a set of railroad tracks at the bottom. Shift now to a lower gear and immediately start climbing through the small town of LaMoille.

After that, it’s flat all the way to your turn to the east at Main Street Road, which takes you back to downtown Marshalltown. Be careful crossing rough tracks between Highland Acre Road and 13th Street.

Side trip: Visit State Center’s rose gardens on the southeast side of town, 201 W. Main Street.

Where to say: The Woodland B&B (641-753-5351)

Loopin’ Marshalltown

Marshall County
Length: 17 miles (west loop); 19 miles (east loop)
Surface: Paved Roads and Trails
Parking and Restrooms: on Marshalltown Square

It took an Iowa Supreme Court ruling in 1859 to stop the egg-, vegetable- and water-throwing battles over where to locate the county seat. Marshalltown, named in honor of John Marshall, the fourth chief justice of the United States Supreme Court, has been quieter ever since. Try these two loops.

West Loop
Start at the Marshall County Courthouse and check out the impressive 19th-century homes on Main Street as you roll west. The view of the Iowa River Valley on your right is gorgeous. At 6.5 miles, hang a left onto S70 to pedal through the hamlet of LaMoille. Warning: the railroad tracks below the church in LaMoille are rough.

Catch E41 east at 8.9 miles. On your left, Linn Creek winds its way back to Marshalltown. You reach old Hwy 30 (the original Lincoln Highway) at 11.2 miles and follow it back into town.

East Loop
Begin with full water bottles and an energy bar, because there are no convenience stores on this route. Hop on the Linn Creek Greenbelt Trail near the Marshalltown Cultural Center. The trail curves onto the Linn Creek levee as you head east. Ride under Third Avenue and continue on the trail to 18th Avenue, Turn south, then east on Main Street until you reach T29 (also called Wallace Avenue). Cross the Iowa River and climb a steep hill up before heading north toward Green Mountain. Enjoy a couple of nice rollers along this road before hooking to the west on E27, also known as Garwin Road, where you work four more hills. Turn south on Hwy 14, then east on Woodland to rejoin the trail to downtown.

Where to stay: The Woodland B&B (641-753-5351)