Matsell Bridge Natural Area

equestrian camping and trails
equestrian camping and trails
Red Oak Cabin
shooting range

The Matsell Bridge Natural Area is the largest Linn County area at 1971acres. Diverse in terrain and habitat, Matsell Bridge is home to many species of native Iowa wildlife and plants. The area contains numerous “one-of-a-kind” facilities within the Linn County Park system: shooting ranges, primitive year-round cabin, equestrian camping and unique historical features.

Matsell Bridge is named after George W. Matsell, a New York City chief of police from 1845-1857. At one time, his land holdings in Iowa included over 3,000 acres. Legend has it that Matsell befriended some American Indians visiting New York City. They appreciated his kindness and invited him to visit them in Iowa. When he arrived, Matsell fell in love with the land and eventually built a mansion near the present day equestrian campground. Matsell fashioned his home after George Washington’s Mount Vernon home that overlooks the Potomac River. Additional buildings were added to the farmstead until there were a total of 11 buildings including livestock barns, grain storage, a gate-keeper’s house and an ice house. Over time, the buildings fell into disrepair and were razed. Only the ice house and stone pillars of the entrance gate remain today – reminding us of the grand old history of Matsell Bridge.   

The area features a rustic camping cabin, fishing & boating on the Wapsipinicon River, and an on-site park ranger residence. 


Matsell Bridge Natural Area - primitive camping within 3700 block of Matsell Park Road

15 non-modern campsites include 2 pack-in or paddle-in areas.  Each site has a picnic table and a fire ring, but no water.* First come-first served.

Mt Hope - primitive camping along Stone City Road has 6 primitive sites. Each site has a picnic table and a fire ring, but no water.* First come-first served.

Equestrian campground -primitive camping 3742 Matsell Park Road

This campground for equine enthusiasts features hitching posts with direct access to the 12+ miles of equestrian multi-use trails. 

Each site has a picnic table and a fire ring, but no water.* First come-first served.

*Water is available at the maintenance shop at 3742 Matsell Park Road April 15 - October 15. 

Matsell Bridge Shooting Range



Matsell Bridge is located at 3742 Matsell Park Road, Central City, 52214. This is the shop address. For a map of the area, click here.


  • 12 miles of trails  - open for equestrian use, hiking & cross-country skiing (Horses are not allowed on the multi-use trails for them during December firearms deer-hunting season)
  • Boat Ramp on Wapsipinicon River 
  • Popular for hunting & trapping

Matsell Bridge Natural Area Brochure

Matsell Bridge Natural Area shooting range rules

Operating Hours & Seasons

4 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.