Iowa Trails FAQ

What’s a “rail-trail”?
A rail-trail is a previously existing railroad corridor that has been discontinued for rail service and has been repurposed as a trail for recreation. 

How many miles of trail are in Iowa?
Iowa has over 2,000 miles of multi-use trails (rail-trails and city trails used for biking, walking, etc.) In total, there are nearly 8,000 miles of hiking, water, equestrian and multi-use trails throughout the state.

Who builds, manages and owns Iowa’s trails?
Trails are generally built, managed and owned by local governing agencies, like cities or county conservation boards. With long distance rail-trails that pass through multiple counties, each jurisdiction will own and maintain its own separate section. There are also several cases where trails are owned and maintained by private nonprofit organizations or multiple partners, like the Wabash Trace Nature Trail, the Grant Wood Trail and the Old Creamery Trail.

How are Iowa’s trail funded?
Funding for Iowa trails is fluid and relies on annual legislation for federal and state budgets. Funding for the development and maintenance of trails normally comes in the form of competitive grants that require some level of local funding match. Many of these grants are administered by the Iowa Department of Transportation.

Most Iowa trail projects require significant private funding and volunteer support. Learn more about current trail projects in need of support.