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

Iowa trail advocate, Tom Neenan, passes away at 92

Iowa lost one of its trail pioneers last week.

Thomas Neenan Sr., 92, passed away Tuesday, September 8, after a short battle with bone cancer. Tom’s lifetime boasted a wealth of achievements, but it’s his dedication and passion for Iowa’s trail systems that will be most remembered.


The route along the Cedar Valley Nature Trail.

Tom served on the Linn County conservation board for 10 years, and is often credited for bringing the American Discovery Trail to Iowa. He also formed and sustained the Iowa Trails Council and aided in their efforts of establishing over 1000 miles of trail on former railroad right-of-way.

Anita O’Gara, Vice President and Development Director of INHF knew Tom personally, and admired his work at a time when INHF and the Iowa Trails Council were both pioneers in trying to establish recreational trails. “His drive, his passion, his energy—that really drove it,” O’Gara said. “He had a lot of vision and persistence.”

Over the course of his career in conservation, Tom earned several awards and received recognition for his work, including the Lifetime Service Award from American Trails in 1998 and an induction into Iowa’s Volunteer Hall of Fame in 1995. He was also nominated for INHF’s Hagie Heritage Award in 2003.

Tom is survived by his five children, and in lieu of flowers, the family asks that those in remembrance find one hour to give back to their community.

A full obituary can be found here.

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

Biking the Amana Colonies

Kolonieweg in Amana, by Eric Utterback

The Kolonieweg trail running through Amana means “Colony Way.” (Photo by Eric Utterback)

Looking for somewhere new to explore on two wheels this holiday weekend? Check out the new gravel bike routes in the Amana Colonies! The two new routes allow riders to immerse themselves in the histories of Middle, High and West Amana. Continue reading

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

“Iowa by Trail” App

Rotation Image_Iowa_by_TrailEnjoying the World Capital of Trails is about to get much easier!

Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation is excited to announce “Iowa by Trail,” a multiuse trail app and website.

INHF recently partnered with Shift Interactive, an Iowa-based company, to bring Iowa’s 1,200 miles of multiuse trails to your fingertips. Continue reading