neste valley recreational area


This idyllic heritage farm nestled in the valley of Dry Run Creek holds more than a mile of abandoned railbed. For those with vision, this land this is Decorah’s next natural attraction.


Trail vision

Imagine a bike trail that would connect the Trout Run Trail in Decorah to the Prairie Farmer Recreational Trail, which runs from Calmar to Cresco. These 8 miles of trail would provide northeast Iowa with over 43 miles of connected trails. 

Although still in the planning stages, the route of Dry Run Trail offers a unique rural adventure — through rolling pastures with savanna oaks, past hidden limestone outcrops, along a riparian stream. From Decorah to Neste Valley the hills protect the valley and even shut out the sounds of cars in the near distance.

Neste Valley Recreational Area contains a mile of former rail corridor that can become the start of Dry Run Trail. Its location at the midway point of this proposed trail will make it a great trailhead with parking plus many more ways for future trail users to explore nature.



Park vision

There is potential at Neste Valley for picnicking, camping, cabins, interpretive trails, and public hunting! Environmental education will be offered, including historic interpretation of the former rail corridor and the farmstead. Families will be able to reach the park by trail as well as car, making it a great destination for a family outing. There may even be a new interpretive facility there someday.

This is the first new park established by Winneshiek County Conservation in 21 years.



Restoration is planned for the meadow and the oak savanna. Work has begun to remove undesirable species, so that this rare native plant community can make progress toward greater health and diversity. Local volunteers, including the Pheasants Forever chapter, have pledged their time and effort in helping restore the prairie.




"Sometimes we need to dream a little, then work to make those visions a reality."

                   - Barbara Schroeder, Winneshiek County Conservation Board Director

INHF interns and Winneshiek CCB staff after clearing brush below oaks at Neste Valley.

Fast facts

  • 170 acres with one mile of stream, one mile of future trail corridor, 70 acres of mature native woodland and remnant oak savanna.
  • 2 miles southwest of Decorah 
  • Essential link for connecting Trout Run Trail To Prairie Farmer Recreation Trail
  • Purchased by INHF and will transfer to Winneshiek County Conservation Board after all funds are raised. No public access at this time.

Major Partners - INHF, Winneshiek County Conservation Board, REAP, Winneshiek County Pheasants Forever

Special thanks to former owners Ingrid Neste, Mary Neste and Michele Stefanick who chose to create a conservation legacy through their family's heritage farm.

Please help! 

  • $235,000 remains to be raised for this million-dollar project
  • Those who contribute $1,000 or more to this project may choose to be included in permanent recognition signage at the site. Pledges at this level may be paid over three years.

Donate now

Pledge via email to give later.

Mail your gift by check payable to INHF. Reference Neste Valley.

Questions? Contact INHF's Anita O'Gara by e-mail or at 800-475-1846, ext. 18.