Trekking across North America

Marro travels through Marshall County on 5,000-mile hike

Cicadas buzzed as the sun hid briefly behind clouds over Brad Marro’s hammock, backpack and hiking poles Monday afternoon as he rested at Grimes Farm and Conservation Center.

“I stopped in and ate, like, eight tacos at Zamora’s,” Marro said with a smile of his stop in Marshalltown Sunday. “The project we’re doing is Brad Treks America; it’s a documentary about my 5,000-mile journey across the country from Delaware to north of San Francisco, Point Reyes.”

The trek takes the Colorado native across the American Discovery Trail, and it took him about five months to reach Central Iowa from his starting point in Delaware.

“The majority of it looks a lot like these trails,” Marro said, gesturing to the tree-shaded trail at Grimes Farm. “The Iowa part is 500 miles, roughly.”

He entered the state from Illinois in early July, and traveled through Davenport, Muscatine, the Cedar Rapids area, La Porte City, Waterloo, Cedar Falls, Hudson and Reinbeck, among other towns.

Marro came to Marshalltown from the north, traveling through Conrad. His next stops are Melbourne and Rhodes as he travels toward the Des Moines area. Along the journey, the trekker said he’s used a drone to get video for the final documentary.

“I actually got some really cool footage of Marshalltown last night (Sunday) at sunset,” he said.

Native Iowans know different parts of the state are distinct, and Marro gave his opinion on some of the differences.

“From the east part (of the state), it’s a little bit more of an urban scenario, people tend to be a little more suburb-related,” he said. “As you get out to Central Iowa, you see the focus really being on this small-town energy, these local communities, and you feel that there’s a tighter bond.”

Additionally, Marro said the people he’s met in the area have been polite and open, and that local law enforcement has been helpful.

The rest of the trail will take him through Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and California.

“I’ll be done in January, hopefully,” Marro said.

The journey has changed Marro’s life in many ways, even though he’s just reaching the middle part of the trek.

“I spent 17 years in New York working in television production, and I felt a little trapped in New York,” he said. “It felt like a big challenge, combining all of my pieces: I love the outdoors, film and television work.”

He said he’s noticed stark physical changes on his journey.

“I was smoking a ton, and just not living a healthy lifestyle,” Marro said. “When I started out, I was like 255 pounds; I’m about 205 right now.”

As he moves into the Rocky Mountains, Marro said he expects to lose even more weight as towns and population become more sparse.

Currently, Marro said he drinks about two gallons of water a day, and eats things like jerky, dried and fresh fruits, convenience store sandwiches, and food from strangers who host him on occasion. He also averages 20-30 miles a day, and his backpack weighs about 40 pounds.

Along with about 4,000-5,000 calories of food a day, Marro said talking to people gives him strength to keep going. He’s learned Americans have more in common with one another than they have differences.

“Right now is a very divided time in our country, so it’s nice for me to not be feeling that,” Marro said. “A lot of it is political divisiveness, I think that’s a very small piece of what this country actually is.”

He said people from all along the trail have shown him support in the form of talking, hosting him overnight and having a meal with him; another word Marro used for the support was “trail magic,” a hiking term.

To keep track of Marro’s travels, check out the Brad Treks America Facebook page.


Contact Adam Sodders at (641) 753-6611 or