Wabash Trace Nature Trail In Iowa

Here is everything you need to know about the Wabash Trace Nature Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Iowa
  • Length: 63 miles.
  • Type: Biking.
  • Surface: gravel
  • Managed By: Wabash Trace Nature Trail Association
  • Permit Required?: No.
  • Website: https://www.wabashtrace.org/

The Wabash Trace Nature Trail, located in southwestern Iowa, holds a rich historical significance that dates back to the late 1800s. Originally, the trail was part of the Wabash Railroad, which was established in 1879. The railroad played a crucial role in connecting various towns and cities in Iowa, Missouri, and Nebraska, facilitating the transportation of goods and people across the region.

The construction of the Wabash Railroad was a monumental undertaking, involving the laying of tracks, building of bridges, and clearing of land. The railroad quickly became a vital transportation route, serving as a lifeline for many communities along its path. It facilitated the growth of towns and industries, enabling the efficient movement of agricultural products, coal, and other resources.

However, with the decline of rail transportation in the mid-20th century, the Wabash Railroad faced challenges and eventually ceased operations in 1992. Rather than letting the rail corridor fall into disuse, a group of dedicated individuals recognized its potential as a recreational trail. The Wabash Trace Nature Trail was born, and efforts were made to convert the former railroad tracks into a scenic pathway for walkers, runners, cyclists, and nature enthusiasts.

Today, the Wabash Trace Nature Trail spans approximately 63 miles, offering visitors a unique opportunity to explore the natural beauty of southwestern Iowa. As they traverse the trail, visitors can still witness remnants of the railroad’s history, such as old trestles, bridges, and mile markers. The trail serves as a testament to the region’s transportation heritage and provides a peaceful retreat for those seeking outdoor adventure and a glimpse into the past.

While On The Trail

Access Points

Info not available.

Transportation Available

1. Wabash Trace Nature Trail Shuttle – Shuttle service specifically for the Wabash Trace Nature Trail.
2. Omaha Metro Bus – Public bus service in the Omaha area.
3. Lyft – Ride-hailing service available in the area.
4. Uber – Ride-hailing service available in the area.
5. Yellow Cab – Taxi service serving the region.
6. Enterprise Rent-A-Car – Car rental service with a location nearby.
7. Bike Rentals – Local bike rental service for exploring the trail.
8. Lime Scooters – Electric scooter rental service in the vicinity.
9. Bird Scooters – Electric scooter rental service in the vicinity.
10. OmaBike – Bike-sharing service with stations near the trail.


The Wabash Trace Nature Trail offers several amenities for visitors. Some of the amenities available at the trail include:

1. Restrooms: There are restroom facilities available at various points along the trail for visitors’ convenience.

2. Parking: The trail provides parking areas at different access points, allowing visitors to park their vehicles while they explore the trail.

3. Camping Sites: The Wabash Trace Nature Trail offers designated camping sites for those who wish to spend the night. These sites may have amenities such as fire pits, picnic tables, and access to water.

4. Picnic Areas: There are picnic areas along the trail where visitors can stop and enjoy a meal or snack. These areas often have picnic tables and benches for seating.

5. Shelters: Some sections of the trail may have shelters or pavilions where visitors can seek shade or take a break from their activities.

6. Water Stations: The trail may have water stations or fountains at certain points, allowing visitors to refill their water bottles and stay hydrated.

7. Bike Repair Stations: To cater to cyclists, the trail may have bike repair stations equipped with tools and air pumps for minor repairs or adjustments.

8. Information Kiosks: Information kiosks are often placed along the trail, providing visitors with maps, trail information, and educational displays about the surrounding nature and wildlife.

9. Trailhead Facilities: At the trailheads, visitors may find additional amenities such as visitor centers, gift shops, bike rentals, and concessions.

It’s important to note that the availability of these amenities may vary depending on the specific section or access point of the Wabash Trace Nature Trail. It is recommended to check with the trail management or official website for the most up-to-date information on amenities and facilities.

Nearby Services

1. Hotel Pattee – Charming boutique hotel offering comfortable accommodations in nearby Perry, Iowa.
2. Redwood Steakhouse – Popular restaurant serving delicious steaks and other American cuisine in Shenandoah, Iowa.
3. Shenandoah Medical Center – Full-service hospital providing emergency medical services in Shenandoah, Iowa.
4. Super 8 by Wyndham Clarinda – Affordable hotel with basic amenities located in Clarinda, Iowa.
5. Subway – Fast-food chain offering sandwiches and salads in Shenandoah, Iowa.
6. Shenandoah Police Department – Local law enforcement agency providing emergency services in Shenandoah, Iowa.
7. Shenandoah Inn & Suites – Budget-friendly hotel offering comfortable rooms in Shenandoah, Iowa.
8. Casey’s General Store – Convenience store chain with a variety of food options and fuel services in Shenandoah, Iowa.
9. Shenandoah Fire Department – Fire and rescue services available in Shenandoah, Iowa.
10. Wabash Wine Company – Winery and tasting room offering a selection of wines in Shenandoah, Iowa.

Wabash Trace Nature Trail Difficulty Notes

The Wabash Trace Nature Trail offers a moderate difficulty level, making it suitable for a wide range of outdoor enthusiasts. The trail spans 63 miles through scenic landscapes, including woodlands, prairies, and river valleys. While the trail is mostly flat and well-maintained, there are occasional gentle inclines and descents that add a touch of challenge. With its crushed limestone surface, the trail is accessible for walkers, runners, cyclists, and even horseback riders. Whether you’re seeking a leisurely stroll or a more vigorous workout, the Wabash Trace Nature Trail provides a satisfying balance of difficulty and enjoyment for all.

Features And Attractions

1. Scenic views: The Wabash Trace Nature Trail offers several scenic views along its route, including picturesque landscapes, rolling hills, and beautiful countryside vistas.

2. Historical sites: Along the trail, you can find various historical sites that provide insight into the region’s past. Some notable historical sites include:

– Malvern Depot: Located in Malvern, Iowa, this restored train depot serves as a museum and provides information about the area’s railroad history.
– Mineola Historical Museum: Situated in Mineola, Iowa, this museum showcases artifacts and exhibits related to the town’s history, including its coal mining heritage.
– Silver City Depot: Found in Silver City, Iowa, this historic train depot has been restored and now serves as a community center and museum.

3. Natural landmarks: The Wabash Trace Nature Trail passes through several natural landmarks, allowing visitors to appreciate the area’s natural beauty. Some notable natural landmarks include:

– Waubonsie State Park: Located near Hamburg, Iowa, this state park offers hiking trails, camping facilities, and stunning views of the Loess Hills.
– Hitchcock Nature Center: Situated near Honey Creek, Iowa, this nature center features hiking trails, wildlife viewing areas, and educational exhibits about the Loess Hills ecosystem.
– Waubonsie State Park Overlook: This scenic overlook within Waubonsie State Park provides panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and Missouri River Valley.

4. Other attractions: In addition to the above, the Wabash Trace Nature Trail passes through several charming towns and communities, offering opportunities to explore local shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions. Some notable towns along the trail include Council Bluffs, Mineola, Silver City, and Shenandoah.

Please note that the availability and condition of these attractions may vary, so it’s always a good idea to check for any updates or closures before planning your visit.

Usage Guidelines

– Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
– Owners are responsible for cleaning up after their pets.
– Bicycles are allowed on the trail, but riders must yield to pedestrians.
– Motorized vehicles are not permitted on the trail.
– Hunting, fishing, and trapping are prohibited.
– Camping is not allowed on the trail.
– Fires and fireworks are not permitted.
– Littering is strictly prohibited.
– Alcohol and illegal substances are not allowed on the trail.
– The trail is open from sunrise to sunset.
– Motorized wheelchairs and other mobility devices are allowed.
– Horseback riding is not permitted on the trail.
– Use of the trail is at your own risk; the trail management is not responsible for any accidents or injuries.
– Respect private property adjacent to the trail.
– Use designated parking areas and do not block access points.
– Follow all posted signs and regulations.
– The trail may have seasonal closures or restrictions due to weather conditions or maintenance work.

Seasonal Information

The Wabash Trace Nature Trail, located in southwestern Iowa, offers a beautiful and serene escape into nature. The best times of the year to visit this trail are during the spring and fall seasons. In the spring, the trail comes alive with vibrant wildflowers and blossoming trees, creating a picturesque landscape. The weather during this time is usually mild and pleasant, making it ideal for hiking, biking, or simply enjoying a leisurely stroll along the trail. Fall is equally stunning, as the foliage transforms into a kaleidoscope of colors, providing a breathtaking backdrop for outdoor activities.

It is important to note that the Wabash Trace Nature Trail has seasonal closures during the winter months. Due to the harsh weather conditions and potential hazards, the trail is closed from December 1st to March 1st. This closure ensures the safety of visitors and helps preserve the trail’s integrity. However, during the closure, visitors can still enjoy the surrounding areas, such as nearby parks or attractions, which offer their own unique experiences.

During the open seasons, the Wabash Trace Nature Trail provides a variety of recreational opportunities. The trail spans approximately 63 miles, offering ample space for hiking, biking, and even horseback riding. Along the way, visitors can enjoy the tranquility of the countryside, passing through charming small towns, picturesque farmlands, and dense forests. The trail is well-maintained and features amenities such as restrooms, picnic areas, and camping spots, making it a perfect destination for a day trip or a longer outdoor adventure.

In conclusion, the best times to visit the Wabash Trace Nature Trail are during the spring and fall seasons when the weather is pleasant and the scenery is at its most beautiful. However, it is important to be aware of the seasonal closures during the winter months. Whether you are seeking a peaceful hike, an invigorating bike ride, or a chance to immerse yourself in nature, the Wabash Trace Nature Trail offers a memorable experience for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages.


1. Wheelchair Accessible Trailhead: The trail offers a designated accessible trailhead with accessible parking, ramps, and signage.
2. Paved Surface: The trail is paved, providing a smooth and accessible surface for wheelchair users.
3. Accessible Restrooms: Accessible restrooms are available along the trail, equipped with features like grab bars and wider doorways.
4. Rest Areas with Benches: The trail includes rest areas with benches, allowing individuals to take breaks and enjoy the surroundings.
5. Accessible Picnic Areas: Picnic areas along the trail are designed to be wheelchair accessible, providing accessible tables and seating.
6. Accessible Drinking Fountains: Drinking fountains along the trail are accessible, featuring lower spouts and easy reach.
7. Accessible Interpretive Signs: Interpretive signs along the trail are designed to be accessible, featuring large print, braille, and tactile elements.
8. Accessible Trail Maps: Trail maps are available in accessible formats, such as large print or digital versions.
9. Accessible Trailside Lodging: Nearby lodging options offer accessible accommodations for individuals with disabilities.
10. Accessible Transportation: Accessible transportation options are available to reach the trail, ensuring individuals with disabilities can easily access it.

Safety Information

When visiting the Wabash Trace Nature Trail, it is important to keep the following safety information in mind:

1. Stay on the designated trail: Stick to the marked path and avoid venturing off into unmarked areas. This will help prevent accidents and ensure you don’t disturb the natural habitat.

2. Be aware of your surroundings: Stay alert and watch out for any potential hazards such as fallen branches, uneven terrain, or wildlife. Keep an eye on the trail markers to avoid getting lost.

3. Dress appropriately: Wear comfortable clothing and sturdy footwear suitable for hiking or walking. Consider the weather conditions and dress in layers to adjust to temperature changes. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen and a hat to protect yourself from the sun.

4. Carry water and snacks: Stay hydrated by carrying an adequate amount of water with you. It’s also a good idea to bring some snacks or energy bars to keep your energy levels up during your visit.

5. Inform someone about your plans: Before heading out, let someone know about your plans, including the trail you’ll be visiting and your estimated return time. This way, if anything goes wrong, someone will be aware of your whereabouts.

6. Use insect repellent: Depending on the season, insects like mosquitoes and ticks may be present. Apply insect repellent to protect yourself from bites and potential diseases.

7. Respect wildlife and plants: Do not disturb or feed wildlife, as it can disrupt their natural behavior and cause harm to both you and the animals. Avoid picking or damaging plants, as they play a crucial role in the ecosystem.

8. Stay on the right side of the trail: When encountering other trail users, keep to the right side to allow for smooth passing. Be courteous and respectful to fellow hikers, cyclists, or joggers.

9. Carry a first aid kit: It’s always a good idea to have a basic first aid kit with you, including band-aids, antiseptic wipes, and any necessary medications. This will help you handle minor injuries or discomforts.

10. Follow trail rules and regulations: Familiarize yourself with any specific rules or regulations set by the trail management. This may include restrictions on pets, cycling speed limits, or specific trail hours.

Remember, safety should be a priority when enjoying the Wabash Trace Nature Trail. By following these guidelines, you can have a pleasant and incident-free experience while appreciating the beauty of nature.

Conservation Notes

The Wabash Trace Nature Trail, located in southwestern Iowa, is a significant conservation area that plays a crucial role in preserving the region’s natural heritage. As a designated nature trail, it is managed with a strong focus on conservation and protection of its unique ecosystems. The conservation status of the Wabash Trace Nature Trail is considered to be in good condition, thanks to the dedicated efforts of local authorities and conservation organizations.

One of the key aspects of the trail’s conservation status is the preservation of its diverse flora and fauna. The trail traverses through a variety of habitats, including woodlands, wetlands, and prairies, providing a home to numerous plant and animal species. Efforts are made to maintain the integrity of these habitats, ensuring that they remain undisturbed and free from invasive species. Regular monitoring and management practices are implemented to control any potential threats to the native biodiversity.

In addition to protecting the natural habitats, the Wabash Trace Nature Trail also focuses on conserving water resources. The trail follows the path of the former Wabash Railroad, which means it often runs alongside rivers, streams, and other water bodies. Conservation measures are in place to prevent pollution and maintain the water quality of these aquatic ecosystems. This includes promoting responsible use of the trail, such as discouraging littering and encouraging visitors to respect the surrounding environment.

Overall, the conservation status of the Wabash Trace Nature Trail is commendable, with ongoing efforts to preserve its unique ecosystems and promote sustainable practices. By maintaining the trail’s natural habitats and protecting its water resources, the conservation authorities ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy the trail’s beauty and ecological significance.

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