Writing new chapters for Central Iowa trails


The world famous High Trestle Trail provides bikers and hikers breathtaking views of the Des Moines River Valley.

Nearly 40 years ago the Central Iowa trail network got its start with the establishment of the Bill Riley Trail. This short trail links Waterworks Park with Greenwood Park and the neighborhoods near the Des Moines Art Center and the former Science Center of Iowa location. It was a modest beginning named after the famous Iowa State Fair talent scout and television personality who loved trails.

Today the network of trails in central Iowa has grown to include local neighborhood trails
as well as long distance regional trails stretching in all directions. The current plan envisions the regional spine extending 70 miles west to Whiterock Conservancy, 45 miles southeast to Lake Red Rock, 80 miles northeast to Pine Lake State Park, 25 miles south to Lake Ahquabi, as well as existing connections to Jefferson, Martensdale and Ames. Continue reading

Try something new this winter: Ice fishing

Screen Shot 2014-02-11 at 4_36_59 PM 2When the winter chill sets in, it can be difficult for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy all the open-air opportunities Iowa has to offer. But the winter months don’t have to halt outdoor fun. This winter, try something new: Ice fishing is a great way to extend Iowa’s recreational season year-round and enjoy the state’s beauty with friends and family.

The expansive Clear Lake in Cerro Gordo County is the perfect location for this cold-weather activity. You’ll find an abundance of fish species, including yellow bass, walleye and muskie as well as a growing population of perch and bluegills. The lake has an ample amount of fishable areas to claim and plenty of local resources to get first-time ice fishermen — and ladies — fishing safely and successfully. Continue reading

Looking Out for Iowa: Raptor resources

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A Swainson’s hawk soars through the sky. (Photo by Sue Schulties)

Looking for a new way to support conservation in Iowa? Try sponsoring a raptor! Endangered or disabled raptors are rehabilitated and/or used for education all across Iowa. Check out the following organizations for more information on how to get involved: Continue reading

Volunteer spotlight: ISU students volunteer for “magical” day

Six Iowa State University Natural Resource and Ecology Management (NREM) graduate students used their skills to help open up and restore a remnant prairie on a March day this spring on a Boone County woodland just 20 minutes from campus. This is the fifth time ISU’s NREM students have worked on the site.


Students from ISU’s Natural Resource and Ecology Management department and INHF staffers work with David Marlow to reclaim a hilltop on the Gardner Property in Boone County. (Gifford the dog was a big help, too.)

“What is interesting about this student group,” INHF Volunteer Coordinator Mary Runkel said, “is that even with students flowing through the program and graduating each year, the passion and knowledge never seems to leave because the leadership is handed down and new energy emerges.” Continue reading

VITAMIN N: Wabash Trace Nature Trail

wabash trace nature trail 2Breathe in the fresh, crisp fall air— and get a dose of Vitamin N — this season with a visit to the Wabash Trace Nature Trail. This 63-mile trail in southwest Iowa travels through four counties along an old railroad corridor, offering a picturesque journey through the scenic Iowa countryside. Outside Magazine once named the Wabash Trace Trail one of the prettiest rails-to-trails in the United States. Continue reading

Paddle or Float? Your Choice on the Iowa River Water Trail

Water Falls on Iowa River-7010By Kerri Sorell, Summer 2014 Magazine

The Iowa River has long been a destination for paddlers and water enthusiasts, perfect for a serene trip through one of Iowa’s most naturally rich areas. There isn’t much to distract you from native species and ancient geological treasures along the Iowa River Water Trail, a 72-mile route from Iowa City to the Mississippi River. Continue reading