We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Hoover Nature Trail
The Hoover Nature Trail (HNT) is a 24-mile-long eastern Iowa trail that follows the old Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad route between Burlington and Cedar Rapids. The trail can be used for biking, hiking, jogging, walking, cross-country skiing, and more. Portions of the trail are in varying stages of development. The sections near Ely, West Branch, Nichols, Columbus Junction and Morning Sun are currently completed.
2. T-Bone Trail
Part of the American Discovery Trail, a non-motorized, paved route across the country, the T-Bone Trail is in western Iowa. Its route is between Audubon and Pymosa township and stretches approximately 20 miles. The trail affords beautiful countryside views and follows a former railway. Plus, just outside Audubon, you can see the largest concrete bull in the world at Albert the Bull Park!
3. Mississippi River Trail
The Mississippi River Trail (MRT) runs along the Mississippi River, about 3,000 miles through 10 states. You can join this route at many spots in Iowa along the Mississippi. Whether you’re looking for a biking or hiking, this trail offers many scenic views of the river, as well as wildlife, bird watching and many opportunities for amazing photographs.
4. Karr Nature Trail
Visit the Red Rock Lake area and the Karr Nature Trail at Cordova Park. This one mile hiking and biking trail along the Des Moines River is a leisurely trail. And when you’re done, take advantage of the many outdoor recreation opportunities as well, from mushroom hunting to swimming, to fishing and more.
5. Wabash Trace Nature Trail
The northern part of the Wabash Trace Nature Trail runs through Iowa's one-of-a-kind Loess Hills, a formation of wind-deposited loess soil along the Missouri River. This rugged trail offers unique vistas and wildlife spotting opportunities. Every Thursday, you can join the Taco Ride, a weekly bike ride that goes from Council Bluffs to Mineola and back, concluding with dinner at the Mineola Steakhouse.
6. Neal Smith and John Pat Dorrian Trails
The Neal Smith Trail is a 26-mile multi-use trail that allows for many outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, running, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing. The John Pat Dorrian Trail offers sweeping views of the Des Moines River and great bird watching for a variety of birds, like great blue herons, white pelicans and bald eagles. The Saylorville Lake Visitor Center is a popular stop along the trail, where you can see one of the largest butterfly gardens in the state.
7. Heritage Trail
From Dyersville to Dubuque, the Heritage Trail is a 26-mile trail that passes through many terrains, like woodlands, limestone bluffs, wetlands and prairies. Because it follows the former Chicago Northwestern rail bed, you can see traces of old mining and mill towns along the trail.
8. Old Creamery Nature Trail
The Old Creamery Trail connects Vinton to Garrison, and Garrison to Dysart. It is about 15 miles long. While some areas of the trail are rough limestone, you can walk, bike, run and snowmobile here.
9. Iowa Great Lakes Trail
The Iowa Great Lakes Trail is a multi-use, 14-mile trail that passes through the Iowa Great Lakes region, including Spirit Lake, Okoboji, West Okoboji, Arnolds Park, Milford and Lake Park. You can also enjoy all of the outdoor recreation activities that come with these beautiful lakes.
10. Trout Run Trail
The Trout Run Trail is a paved recreation trail that follows a 12-mile loop around the beautiful city of Decorah in northeast Iowa. The trail affords abundant scenic beauty, including limestone bluffs, algific talus slopes, the Oneota Valley and the Upper Iowa River. The trail is also punctuated with sculptures and mosaics. This is a multi-use trail that’s great for biking, walking, running, cross-country skiing.