6 Fall Outdoor Adventures in the Quad Cities

By on September 1, 2021
quad cities

Spend your day outdoors in the Quad Cities, enjoying the cooler temperatures and the beautiful colors.  Located on the world-renowned Mississippi River, the Quad Cities has plenty of places to play outside this fall.  Put your phone away and let Mother Nature find you.

  1. Hiking

Put on your sturdy hiking shoes and explore woodland trails designed to engage you with hills, valleys, rocky outcroppings, and beautiful views exploding with fall colors. The 1,280-acre Scott County Park in Long Grove, Iowa, with so many miles of different trails, along with camping and cabins.  On the north side of the park, you can step back in time at Dan Nagle Walnut Grove Pioneer Village.  A cross-roads settlement and stagecoach stop from the 1860s, this historic site offers 22 historic buildings to explore.

Black Hawk State Historic Site is located along the Rock River in Rock Island, Illinois.  There are six miles of marked hiking trails.  Here you will discover the history of the great warrior Black Hawk and the Sauk and Meskwaki people that once called this region their home.  Stop by the John Hauberg Indian Museum to find out more.

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Loud Thunder Forest Preserve offers 1,480 acres of outdoor experiences, including Lake George, a 167-acres lake with depths up to 55 feet and stocked with many varieties of fish and great for kayaking and canoeing.  Hiking and equestrian trails include a two-mile moderate level and a 12-mile continuous moderate level.

  1. Bird Watching

Birdlife at Nahant Marsh in Davenport, Iowa, changes from season to season.  Some of the 150 species of birds recorded here are occasional migrating visitors, and others stay to nest and raise their young.  When fall returns so do the flocks of birds as they make their annual journey to warmer places.  At dusk, the sky is alive as swirling clouds of red-winged blackbirds search for a safe place to roost in the cattails.  Coots, with their black bodies and light-colored bills, come by the thousands before they push on southward. 

There are trails through the 305-acre nature preserve that are great for walking and signs explaining the marsh ecosystem.  There is also a blind for bird watching.  Nahant Marsh offers guided birding tours with a local ornithologist throughout the year. 

  1. Biking

The Great River Trail, American Discovery Trail, and Mississippi River Trail, along with other trails, make this riverfront destination a favorite among cyclists.  Grab your bicycle and explore the miles of trails on both sides of the river.  Or Visit Quad Cities has free rental bicycles from their visitor center for daytime use.

One place to explore is Sylvan Island.  Sylvan Island is a former industrial site that covers approximately 35 acres on an island in the Mississippi River/Sylvan Slough.  This 1.2-mile network of multi-use trails runs around and across Moline’s Sylvan Island Park where you can see the river, wildlife, and views of the hydropower dam. 

The QC offers 45 miles of single-track trails for mountain biking to take you directly into the woods over all types of terrain.  Try the trails at Westbrook Park in Dewitt, Iowa, or the green segments at Scott County Park in Iowa for newer riders.  For people looking for more physically demanding, hilly terrain, Sunderbruch Park in Davenport, Iowa, and Illiniwek Park in Hampton, Illinois, provide challenging courses.

  1. Disc Golf, Paintball, Zipline

For a different take on outdoor activities, Snowstar Extreme Sports isn’t just for the winter anymore.  During the warmer months, you can paintball, zipline, and now play disc golf.  The brand-new 18-hole disc golf course covers three miles over unique terrain and difficult elevations.  This design might prove to be challenging because of Snowstar’s rolling hills and trees.  The Quad Cities boasts over 10 disc golf courses for you and your crew to enjoy and has hosted professional tournaments in the region.

Paintball, provided by local business Action Valley Paintball, gives you the opportunity for the hyper ball, attack the hill, and a speedball field.  Bring a group of friends and see who can make the charge for victory. 

Fly 100-feet over the grassy slopes at speeds of 35 mph on the zipline.  Their dual zipline is one of the longest in the Midwest at 1,300 feet.

  1. Golfing

For golf enthusiasts, the QC offers an array of moderately challenging golf courses and championship-level layouts.  The QC’s incredible golf landscape has gotten high ratings by Golf Digest and other golf publications.  One of the top courses is TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Illinois. This course welcomes the pros during the PGA TOUR’s John Deere Classic.  

Palmer Hills in Bettendorf, Iowa, recently opened a new putting course, called The Forge, that’s the first of its kind in the region.  The 18-hole course with real grass-putting greens has multiple holes on each green for various approaches and putting challenges.  It’s like mini-golf on a real golf course but with none of the crazy obstacles.  It’s both a high-end golf experience and a fun learning environment.  Accessible to all skill levels, it’s easy to play 18 holes in 45 minutes to an hour.

6. Fall Produce Picking

Of course, pumpkin and apple picking are favorite activities of the season.  The Quad Cities has several spots to find traditional fall produce.  Enjoy a homegrown experience in the QC. 

Buffalo Pumpkin Farm in Buffalo, Iowa, is the real farm experience. They have a few fun activities (bounce houses, cow train, etc.) but it’s so much more than that with hayrack rides, petting zoo, and pumpkin patches.  Kids love the Corn Crib Nursery in Coal Valley, Illinois, with a variety of things to do: shooting mini-pumpkins, zip line, bounce pad, pedal cars, cow train, hayrack rides, amazing play area, and more.

Stone’s Apple Barn in East Moline, Illinois, is a fourth-generation apple orchard with more than 55 varieties of apples.  Pick your own apples or choose apples, cider, honey, preserves, and more from their store.

The Quad Cities is a family of communities located on the Mississippi River.  The area is just a 2-½ hour drive from Des Moines, Iowa, and Chicago, Illinois.  It is easily accessible via I-80, I-74, I-88, and several major state highways.

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6 Fall Outdoor Adventures in the Quad Cities