Mount Trashmore Trails & Overlook

 Mount Trashmore Trails and Overlook

Mount Trashmore Trails & Overlook

Notable for its flat geography, the highest point in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, isn’t a towering skyscraper. It’s an overlook atop years of solid waste — a landmark we designed to turn a landfill into a community asset. The beloved Mount Trashmore Trails and Overlook stands nearly 950 feet above sea level, adding character to the flat Midwestern landscape. 

Before its transformation, Mount Trashmore opened its doors as a landfill in 1965 and took in waste until its 2006 closure. Two years later the unthinkable happened. Local rainfall and heavy northern snowmelt caused the Cedar River to crest at more than 31 feet — 19 feet above flood stage. Ten square miles were inundated with floodwater, causing the sixth largest Federal Emergency Management Agency declaration ever. Flood water entrenched the community for days, forcing entire buildings, houses and structures to be completely demolished.

The need for waste disposal was dire. It became clear that reopening Mount Trashmore would accelerate cleanup. Over the next four years, more than 430,000 tons of storm debris added 30 feet to the top of Mount Trashmore.

When the landfill closed for good in 2012, the Cedar Rapids Linn County Solid Waste Agency began to imagine how the space could be repurposed. The solution — create the best viewpoint in Linn County — a first-of-its-kind overlook with views of historic downtown Cedar Rapids. 

Building on a longtime partnership, the agency brought us in to design the breathtaking space. Mount Trashmore Trails and Overlook features a pavilion with four levels of terraced seating, a viewing deck, picnic areas and benches surrounded by an 18-acre pollinator zone. We also developed an annual inspection plan that specifies continuous monitoring of the closed landfill for elevation change and settlement issues.

The landmark features three trails: a nearly one-mile long walking/hiking trail, a multi-use trail for hikers and bicyclists, and a “flow” trail for seasoned riders. The trails were custom-designed by a Colorado-based mountain biking trail expert, and connect to the nearby 51-mile Cedar Valley Trail network.

 Mount Trashmore Trails and Overlook
Cedar Rapids Linn County Solid Waste Agency

Cedar Rapids, IA
United States