Photo courtesy of Travel Dubuque
Put away your sandals and bring out your sweaters. It’s officially the season for cool hikes and nature’s color collage. Iowa’s multi-use trails offer a fantastic setting for soaking in the autumn display.
The Heritage Trail runs about 30 miles from Dyersville – of Field of Dreams fame – to Dubuque. With plenty of parking close to the trail, start on the western trailhead in Dyersville then head east.
The trail follows the old Chicago Great Western Railroad corridor, originally built in the 1880s to link Chicago, Minneapolis, Omaha and Kansas City. In the 1960s, the company determined the 32 bridges and trestles were no longer safe for railway traffic, and abandoned the line in the 1980s. Shortly after, INHF began working with local community leaders, partners and members to build support for converting the old railroad corridor into a multi-use trail – one of INHF’s first – acquiring the corridor, providing technical expertise and fundraising support.
Small towns provide points of interest and water breaks along the way. The town of Graf draws in fossil hunters with its ancient limestone cliffs along the river and old railroad cuts. As you approach the town of Durango, you’ll pass near the Little Maquoketa River Mounds State Preserve, a choice spot to explore the area’s popular water trails.
Overhead, big blue skies contrast with the vibrant warm shades to create optimum autumn scenery.
To learn the best time for your trail adventures, visit the Iowa DNR’s Fall Colors page.