With more than 1,800 miles of biking trails, the great outdoors really doesn’t get any greater than in Iowa. Check out some of our regional and nationally-recognized routes – and then put the pedal to the pavement!
Want to explore more trails? Order the Iowa Bicycle Map here.
1. Cedar Valley Trails
Cedar Falls, Waterloo
Choose your own adventure on more than 110 miles of trail loops in the Cedar Falls/Waterloo area. Maps provide information on 11 trail loops ranging from 2 to 16 miles. The trails also connect to both the Cedar Falls and Waterloo downtown districts, museums, hotels, restaurants and bars. More than 75 wayfinding signs help direct you to points of interest on the trails. Need to rest for a bit? Then head to Cedar Falls’ Main Street for a sweet treat at Scratch Cupcakery, a tasty brew from Singlespeed Brewing, and an overnight at the Blackhawk Hotel.
2. Fairfield Loop Trail
The Fairfield Loop Trail circles the southern Iowa town of Fairfield, making each mile of your ride different from the last. Cycle 15.9 miles through local parks and wetlands and over Louden Bridge, which features 171 ceramic plaques created by local art students. After making a loop of town, bike your way to Fairfield's downtown square to dine at one of the town's adventurous restaurants like the Istanbul Grill or Green Gourmet. Or stop at Jefferson County Ciderworks for a glass of hard cider, brewed in-house. Too early for a drink? Try the coffee at Café Paradiso; it has been voted Iowa's best coffee for seven years straight.
3. Great Western Trail
Des Moines, West Des Moines, Cumming, Martensdale
The asphalt Great Western Trail is built on Chicago Great Western’s abandoned rail bed. In 16.5 miles you’ll cruise from the urban landscape of Des Moines to rural countryside near Cumming and Martensdale. Several picnic shelters along the way offer great stretch breaks. Be sure to stop at the Cumming Tap, a popular watering hole at the halfway point of the trail.
4. Heritage Trail
Dubuque, Durango, Dyersville, Epworth, Farley, Graf
The scenic 26-mile-long compacted limestone Heritage Trail passes through eight towns and spans all of Dubuque County. The gentle grade is less than 1%, making it suitable for use by all ages and abilities. Most of the trail is tree-covered but the further west you go the more exposed the trail becomes as it is surrounded by open swaths of native prairie grasses.
5. High Trestle Trail
Ankeny, Sheldahl, Slater, Madrid, Woodward
Art and nature collide on the beautiful 25-mile High Trestle Trail between Ankeny and Woodward. A canopy of trees shades you from the sun as you cycle to the iconic and award-winning Trestle Bridge. Standing 13 stories tall and half a mile long, the bridge offers a grand view of the Des Moines River Valley from beneath angular steel frames. Although the bridge is the focal point of the trail, there are plenty of places to eat, drink, shop, and camp along the route. Rider favorites include the Flat Tire Lounge in Madrid and the Whistlin' Donkey in Woodward.
6. Raccoon River Valley Trail
Waukee, Adel, Redfield, Linden, Panora, Yale, Herndon, Jamaica, Dawson, Perry, Minburn, Dallas Center
The 89-mile Raccoon River Valley Trail loops through several small towns and the Des Moines suburbs – meaning you can start and end your ride from almost anywhere along the trail. Must-stops for refreshments include Bunkers Dunkers By Matt in Jefferson, PJ’s Drive-In in Panora and the bike-friendly Hotel Pattee in Perry that doubles as a perfect overnight stop. Many rides are held on the trail throughout the year, but the most popular is the annual BACooN Ride in June which features bacon food items at stops along the trail.
7. Sauk Rail Trail
Lake View, Carnarvon, Breda, Maple River, Carroll
The Sauk Rail Trail takes you 33 miles from Lake View to Carroll in western Iowa, with the opportunity for stops every few miles at local watering holes. Check out rider favorites The Angry Beaver in Maple River, Red’s Place in Breda, and The Bar in Lake View. A two-day ride is easy to achieve with bike-friendly hotels like Boulders Inn & Suites or the Carrollton Inn on either end of the route. Check out Thursday nights on the trail for the weekly “T.H.I.R.S.T.” ride.
8. Three Rivers Trail
Rolfe, Bradgate, Rutland, Humboldt, Dakota City, Thor and Eagle Grove
Named for the fact that it crosses three area rivers, bikers on the Three Rivers Trail can view the west branch of the Des Moines River, the east branch of the Des Moines River and the Boone River. The 33-mile trail is a lovely mix of woodlands, grasslands, marshy areas and open prairie – and seeing wildlife is common.
9. Trout Run Trail
The 11-mile Trout Run Trail provides a scenic trip around the city of Decorah. Much of the trail is flat, but you will find some sharp switchbacks and hills to challenge you as well. The trail crosses trout streams five times and runs next to the Decorah Trout Hatchery (where you can stop and feed the fish for just a quarter). The trail also passes by the world-famous Decorah Eagles nest. When you’re ready to take a break, head to the Whippy Dip for ice cream or Toppling Goliath for an ice cold beer (home of some of the best beers in the world, according to RateBeer). Stay overnight at the historic Hotel Winneshiek for a perfect end to the day.
10. Wabash Trace Nature Trail
Council Bluffs, Mineola, Silver City, Malvern, Imogene, Shenandoah, Coin, Blanchard
The Wabash Trace is a converted railroad right-of-way that runs from Council Bluffs to Blanchard on the Iowa/Missouri border. A scenic adventure through Iowa’s countryside, this 62-mile trail creates a memorable experience. It's one of Iowa's longest and most popular rail trails as it travels through the unique Loess Hills and connects with the city trails in Council Bluffs. Every Thursday night, riders can join the Taco Ride from Council Bluffs to Mineola's Tobey Jack Steakhouse and back.