Length: 31 miles
Terrain: Paved roads and gravel
Parking and Restrooms: Casey’s on Summit Drive
What’s more romantic than covered bridges and a winery? Bicycling to them! Imagine that you’re Meryl Streep or Clint Eastwood in the movie The Bridges of Madison County – in bike helmets. Some mornings when I ride this loop, I’ll see only two cars the entire route. How cool is that?
The ride begins in Winterset, then turns west on Hwy 322. Three miles down the road enter Pammel State Park through a tunnel carved in a steep limestone bluff (madisoncountyparks.org; camping and picnic areas). Splash through the Middle River, then wind your way through heavily wooded acres lining the road, which transitions to gravel. On the meandering Fox Trail, catch glimpses of the river. Pedaling 6 miles puts you at the Roseman Bridge, made famous by the movie. Peruse the gift shop for memorabilia. You can’t get here on paved roads!
Head north on Roseman Bridge Road, then back to Hwy 92 and north on Iowa Avenue. The roads are generally flat for next 5 miles. Plan your next break at Covered Bridges Winery at the dead end of Kiowa Lane. Relax on the lawn with a bottle of wine and a picnic lunch (call ahead; no regular tasting-room hours).
Next, cruise to Hogback Bridge located in the North River Valley. It’s a fun ride down to the bridge but a steep climb on your return. Follow 195th Street to 8th Avenue, which drops you right back to town. Winterset’s square offers specialty shopping and quiet restaurants (the Madison County Dessert Factory is popular). See MadisonCounty.com for more local info, including the birthplace of Hollywood legend John Wayne.