• Activities:

    Chillin, Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Spring, Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:


  • RT Distance:

    2 Miles

Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Picnic Area
Swimming Hole

This afternoon-long hike along the rocky shores of the Coralville Lake and Iowa River to the waterfall/ spill-out of Lake Macbride easily beats walking to the falls from the Coralville Res Boat Ramp parking lot. At times, this beautiful hike feels like it takes you right out of the Midwest, and allows you to watch the sunset from a variety of legit locations.

Where's the fun in driving right up to your scenic destination? Here's how we had a more adventurous day at the lake by hopping off the beaten path: Just as you enter the park from County Road F16 coming out of the small town of Solon, IA you will see a small, grass parking lot on your right (this lot has been marked by the pin on the map below). On the opposite side of the street is the entrance to the Lake Macbride Recreation Trail, which leads back towards Solon- Connected to the parking lot is the entrance to the Lake Macbride Interpretive Trail, a small loop trail that has a section branching off to a beach along the Coralville Lake. Once you reach the beach and the trail ends, simply start along the shore of what becomes the Iowa River towards the Coralville Res Boat Ramp.

This shoreline is mostly rocky with some beach spots tucked away here and there, and can also be very windy, giving it a coastal vibe. There's a few spots along the way that are perfect for hammockin', rock skippin', and bonfire chillin'. Eventually you wrap around a sharp corner along the Iowa River where you'll see the boat ramp parking lot and the path to the waterfall. The falls are a wide, gradual spill-out of Lake Macbride into the Iowa River with two steep bluffs surrounding it. The waterfall can be strategically walked across without even getting wet and both bluffs can be climbed with little effort. Where you end your day is entirely up to you, we hung up the hammock over one of the bluffs at the falls, but going back and setting up shop somewhere along the Iowa River shore is just as tempting. You can either follow your footsteps back to your vehicle or follow the road connected to the boat ramp parking lot and be back to your car in no-time.

Although the Interpretive Trail isn't explicitly marked on it, I found the Lake Macbride trail map on http://www.traillink.com/trail-maps/solon-lake-macbride-recreation-trail.aspx to be helpful.

The State Park offers both a modern campground along with a traditional one located on the south side of the park but they ask that you camp in the designated areas.

Pack List

  • Camera
  • Hiking shoes
  • Lunch and water
  • Extra layers (if you're on the fence about it, just be safe pack extra b/c it gets windy along the Iowa River
  • Hammock
  • Swim gear(for designated swim areas)
  • Fishing gear and license
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When we got to the beach, it was packed with boaters and people hanging out and we felt very out of place. We continued to the left along the water into the reeds and were immediately surrounded by big flying bugs and ended up bushwacking two miles until we finally reached the water fall, which was cute but also very crowded and we didn't really see many spots for hammocking. Maybe would have been better for sunrise.

7 months ago
7 months ago

This is always a wonderful place to hang out. Just be wary, I got my phone stolen here (so don't trust anyone! Despite this, that really doesn't change how much I love the place. At dusk it's the perfect place to watch the sunset, and at dawn the perfect place to watch the sunrise.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

The midwest is not much for waterfalls but this is a gem. I am glad you reviewed your hike and it looks awesome. That view with the hammock is is beautiful. Definitely have to visit sometime.

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

Quinten Pfeiffer

Photographer and journalism student at the University of Iowa who likes to be outside.

Are we missing something? Suggest an edit

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