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Featured National Recreation Trails

A sampling of National Recreation Trails in the news or recently designated. The NRT program showcases the diversity of trails across America, from our cities and suburbs to the deserts, waterways, and high mountains.


National Recreation Trails... America's great trails!

Every kind of trail activity is represented in the listing of designated NRTs. Besides hiking and bicycling, the system includes water trails, motorized routes, snow tracks, greenways, and equestrian paths.

arrowSearch all of Iowa's designated National Recreation Trails in the Online NRT Database


map of Iowa

photo of trail steps

The Catfish Trail, part of the Mines of Spain

State Recreation Area Trail System

Chichaqua Valley Trail This 20-mile rail-trail is rich in both history and scenic beauty, connecting several small towns in Jasper and Polk Counties and allowing for a variety of trail uses including biking, snowshoeing, and bird watching (designated 2007).

Des Moines River Water Trail is divided into a North Section and South Section. The 19-mile river corridor is on a major migratory flyway for numerous species and exhibits tremendous bird and wildlife viewing opportunities during all seasons. Partnerships among agencies and organizations have provided recreation opportunities, a critical healthy community feature, and links with other trails (designated 2010).

Great Western Trail A key connection between urban Des Moines and the surrounding rural landscape, this 16.5-mile scenic rail-trail offers trail users the opportunity to journey through Iowa history while hiking, biking, or enjoying other recreational activities (designated 2008).


Mines of Spain State Recreation Area Trails System Located just south of Dubuque along the Mississippi River, this approximately 20-mile trail system offers a wealth of opportunities for recreation, environmental education, human history interpretation, and wildlife observation (designated 2008).

Raccoon River Valley Trail began with 34 miles of rail trail opened in 1989, one of the first trails developed through the National Trails Systems Act. The trail has now been expanded both east and west in Polk County to Jefferson in Greene County, a distance of 56 miles.

Sauk Rail Trail This 33-mile rail-trail and greenway connects several communities, two state parks and Hazelbrush Wildlife Area, offering an assortment of midwest landscapes for bicyclists and other trail users to enjoy (designated 2007).

Smith's Island Nature Trail is a one-mile trail located near Pleasant Valley. It is considered a natural treasure and haven for area residents and visitors alike. The trail is a naturalist's paradise, hosting oaks, woodland wildflowers and Sugar Maple, as well as herons, osprey and pelicans. Annual Bald Eagle watches attract thousands from across the Midwest. In addition to its scenic features, this trail is valued for its historic resources and natural history interpretation, which draw school children from throughout the region (designated 2003).

Sugar Bottom Mountain Biking Trail System Set in rugged terrain surrounding the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Coralville Reservoir on the Iowa River, 13 miles of trail are arranged as a one-way system of loops to create an extended riding experience and serve riders of all skill levels (designated 2013).

Summerset Trail Stretching almost 12 miles through rolling hills, river bottom wetlands, and remnant prairies, this rail-trail allows for hiking, biking, or cross-country skiing through some of the best of central Iowa’s natural scenery (designated 2008).

Tallgrass Trail experience the tallgrass prairie on the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge (designated 2012).

Three Rivers Trail This 26-mile rail-trail and greenway is rich in scenic and historic resources, taking bicyclists, hikers, cross country skiers, and other trail users over 36 rehabilitated bridges as it crosses three rivers in northern Iowa (designated 2007).


Veterans Trail barrier-free trailat the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Coralville Lake Project near Iowa City (designated 2012).

Volksweg Trail Volksweg is a Dutch word meaning “people’s path,” and this trail serves as a path connecting the picturesque city of Pella to the recreation areas of Lake Red Rock on the Des Moines River. The trail traverses timbered areas, restored prairies, pine plantations, and open fields while offering spectacular views of the lake.  It is maintained through a combined effort by the Marion County Conservation Board, the city of Pella, and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.

Wabash Trace Nature Trail Known as Iowa's longest rail-trail, this 63-mile trail and greenway offers visitors the opportunity to experience a rich variety of flora and fauna, urban and rural communities, and activities such as hiking, biking, and camping (designated 2007).


trail noteWe frequently add NRT information, photos and maps to these pages. Send suggestions and information requests to American Trails. Research additional NRTs in the NRT database.

See how to update online trail information in the National Recreation Trails online database or send changes by e-mail to



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The on-line database has details on the currently designated National Recreation Trails. The NRT Program online is hosted by American Trails:


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