Sign Up for MATAG before Sept. 18

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The early-bird registration deadline for the 2015 Mid America Trails and Greenways (MATAG) conference is Friday, September 18. Register now before prices go up!

From it’s inauguration in 1999, MATAG has focused on sharing information and protecting Midwestern trails. Representatives from each of the nine heartland states organize the conference, and promote learning through classroom sessions and off-site workshops. This year’s theme is Healthy People, Healthy Places.

The conference will be held Oct. 25-28 at the Embassy Suites in downtown Des Moines. Regular registration deadline is Friday, Oct. 9.

Register now for MATAG 2015!

More information, including a schedule of events and speakers, can be found at www.matag.org.

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RAGBRAI route on Iowa By Trail

The IBT crew gets excited at RAGBRAI.

The IBT crew had a blast at last year’s RAGBRAI.

RAGBRAI is almost here, and Iowa By Trail is ready! We’ve added the route to the app, featuring points of interest along the entire stretch, including restaurants, museums and INHF public projects. Plus, we’ve added all the locations from Team Brewhaha’s unauthorized and unofficial bar guide XLIII.

And make sure to come say hi—we’ll be at RAGBRAI all week! We’ll have a booth at the expo and the overnight towns. Preview some of the merch we’ll be selling here. Continue reading

Celebrate National Trails Day with a historic snack—trail mix

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Photo by Cary Bass-Deschenes on Flickr via Creative Commons. No changes were made.

IowaByTrail_main1 COPYHappy National Trails Day! We know you’re gearing up to get outside and explore Iowa’s trails with the Iowa By Trail app, so consider bringing along a satisfyingly sweet and salty snack — trail mix.

Trail mix, or gorp (said to be an acronym for “good old raisins and peanuts” or “granola, oatmeal, raisins and peanuts”), has ancient roots. Nomadic tribes used to mix together dried fruit, nuts and meat together to take on long journeys. They needed lightweight, high energy, nutritious food that didn’t require cooking and could be stored for long periods of time. Native Americans had their own version of trail mix — pemmican, which consisted of dried buffalo, moose, or caribou mixed with dried berries and animal fat — that lasted for months.

Despite this history, two companies, Harmony Foods and Hadley Fruit of Orchards of California, claim that the name “trail mix” was invented by surfers who mixed together peanuts and raisins to keep up their energy. In New Zealand, trail mix is called scroggin, which supposedly stands for sultanas, chocolate, raisins, and other goody-goodies including nuts (but that’s most likely just folk etymology). Many European countries named the mix as a staple for students, a cheap snack usually accompanying a drink. For example, in Denmark, it’s known as Studenterhavre, “student oats,” and in Germany it’s known as Studentenfutter, “student feed.” Whichever word or meaning you choose to use, this treat will still taste delicious.

Trail mix in a great on the go, and can be made easily with whatever you have on hand. The key is to mix salty and sweet flavors and crunchy and soft textures. You can find an easy, versatile recipe for trail mix here. Some of my favorite additions to trail mix are coconut chips, crystallized ginger, pumpkin seeds, sesame sticks, pretzels and dark chocolate chips. Fuel up for the trail with your own favorite combination, and continue to explore trails with Iowa By Trail all summer long!

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Parks of Gay Lea Wilson Trail

Featured on the Iowa By Trail app, Gay Lea Wilson Trail extends for 35 miles in Polk County, through Des Moines, Altoona, Pleasant Hill and Ankeny. Along the way, six parks–we feature five here–offer riders a chance to take a break and enjoy Iowa’s natural beauty. Continue reading

Trail Tuesday: Chichaqua Valley Trail

Every Tuesday, look for a new featured trail story on our blog – part of our new “Trail Tuesday” series. This will be a way for you to learn about all the different trails we have to offer on our Iowa By Trail app. If you like what you read you can download the app and go explore! For any questions on these trails, email ibt@inhf.org.

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This week’s featured trail is Chichaqua Valley Trail.

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Trail Tuesday: Wabash Trace Nature Trail

Every Tuesday, look for a new featured trail story on our blog – part of our new “Trail Tuesday” series. This will be a way for you to learn about all the different trails we have to offer on our Iowa By Trail app. If you like what you read you can download the app and go explore! For any questions on these trails, email ibt@inhf.org.

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This week’s featured trail is Wabash Trace Nature Trail. Continue reading

Iowa By Trail app receives $40,000 Wellmark Foundation challenge grant

trails-info-2The Iowa By Trail app, a project of Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF), has received a $40,000 challenge grant from The Wellmark Foundation for projects that promote community and individual health.

“We’re ecstatic to be partnering with Wellmark to help complete the first portion of our Iowa By Trail app project,” said Hannah Inman, INHF Communications Director. “Iowa By Trail is the first app of its kind in the nation allowing Iowans to explore 1,800 miles of multi-use trails around the state using their smartphone. It’s a platform to showcase and brand Iowa’s premier trail system, allowing people to more easily access and use Iowa’s extensive trail system as well as the communities along it. The app helps users find trails closest to them, discover interesting stops along the way—restaurants, state parks, restrooms—and keeps users updated on trail closures and events.” Continue reading

Trail Tuesday: Cedar Valley Nature Trail

Every Tuesday, look for a new featured trail story on our blog – part of our new “Trail Tuesday” series. This will be a way for you to learn about all the different trails we have to offer on our Iowa By Trail app. If you like what you read you can download the app and go explore! For any questions on these trails, email ibt@inhf.org.

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This week’s highlighted trail is the Cedar Valley Nature Trail.

This 52-mile linear park follows a route through the Cedar River bottomlands, along forested banks of the river and across fields where stands of trees are punctuated by open vistas. The trail is asphalt at the ends with crushed limestone in the middle. Continue reading

Iowa By Trail: Help spread the word!

It’s official: We are only one week away from enjoying Iowa’s outdoors with the new Central Iowa version of Iowa By Trail! What trails are you excited to explore?

We’ll have updates throughout the week of what you can expect from the app—and how you can get involved! But first, help us spread the word.

To show your support, change one of your Facebook photos to the images below. In the description, make sure to tell people how they can find out more. A sample description is provided below. If you want to customize your support, you can also post a picture of you on your favorite Iowa trail! We want to promote the trails and the app together, celebrating the exciting upcoming season of getting outdoors!

What to include in your photo description:

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Iowa By Trail update

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INHF and Shift are working around the clock to make sure the Central Iowa version of Iowa By Trail is ready for you to explore on May 1st. We have beta testers hitting the trails to test the app, volunteers out finding hidden gems and photographers snapping  pictures of some of Iowa’s most beloved recreation areas. We can’t wait for you to see it!

On May 1st, here’s what you can expect: All Central Iowa trails will be usable, with trailheads and paths clearly marked. You’ll be able to track your journey, take photos and share your trail experiences through social media. Who knows—maybe we’ll start using the app for RAGBRAI training!

The best part of Iowa By Trail? In our opinion, it’s what we call the “Points of Interest (POI)”—places to stop and see along the trail. Whether it’s a birding area, historical museum, ice cream shop or water station, these special places are what make Iowa trails unique. Come May 1st, you’ll be able to see these POIs for four major trails: the Raccoon River Trail, the High Trestle Trail, the Downtown Des Moines Riverwalk and the Great Western Trail. New trails and cities will be released as the weeks go by, so stay on the lookout for your favorite trail or town! We’ll be announcing when new trails are released on our Facebook and Twitter, so make sure you’re following us! Continue reading