Explore Iowa: Wabash Trace Nature Trail

Posted on June 9, 2016 in Blog


Southwest Iowa Nature Trails, Inc. (SWINT) established this 63-mile trail through the Loess Hills, in partnership with INHF. It took 10 years to convert this abandoned railroad corridor for use as a trail, but it was worth it. The trail has been frequently recognized as one of the nation’s best.

The Wabash Trace Nature Trail travels from Iowa’s beautiful Loess Hills to its southwestern prairies. The Wabash has gentle grades, beginning in the popular, wooded northern section and ending in the wide-open vistas of the southern portion. This limestone-surfaced trail passes through eight towns: Council Bluffs, Mineola, Silver City, Malvern, Imogene, Shenandoah, Coin and Blanchard.

With about 50 percent of its riders coming from outside Iowa, the Wabash Trace brings economic benefits to these towns and the entire area. Cities like Mineola -- which hosts a weekly Taco Ride from Council Bluffs during the summer months -- have learned how to draw riders to local businesses.

INHF's role
INHF purchased the railroad corridor when it became available and then helped local leaders raise the funds to pay for the land and its conversion to trail use. A state Recreational Trail Fund grant provided much of the funding, and more than 1,000 private donors provided the rest. Working with SWINT, INHF owned and managed the trail for over a decade. Today, INHF continues to own the Pottawattamie County segment, but the segments that pass through Mills, Page and Fremont counties are owned and managed by their respective county conservation boards.

What to do
Jogging and cycling on the trail are obvious choices, but other recreational activities are available including cross-country skiing, wildlife identification, picnics and dog walking (on a leash). Visitors can also travel the scenic byways through the Loess Hills and visit historic buildings and museums.

The area’s Taco Ride is a popular cycling event on Thursdays during the summer months. Visit tacoride.com for more information.

The Wabash Trace Nature Trail has trailheads in Blanchard, Coin, Shenandoah, Imogene, Malvern, Silver City, Mineola, and Council Bluffs. 

Tourism Info
Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce

Shenandoah Chamber of Commerce