Wabash Trace Nature Trail

The Wabash Trace Nature Trail is a 63 mile converted rail-trail through scenic southwest Iowa. Experience the best of small-town Iowa with everything from local cafes, ice cream and coffee shops to exquisite dining, wineries to breweries, museums and art galleries to unique downtown shopping. Camping opportunities are plentiful and there are hotels, cabins, and B&Bs along the way for those who prefer a bed. Council Bluffs and Omaha are along the way.

photo:  Photo by Jim Schmid.

Length: 63.00 miles
Loop Trail? No
Type: Greenway, Nature Trail, Rail Trail, Snow Trail
Agency: Nonprofit
Entry Fee? $1.00
Parking Fee? No

Allowed Uses:

Bicycling (on pavement)
Bicycling (off pavement)
Dogs - On leash
Pedestrian - Walking/Hiking/Running
Snow - Cross-country Skiing
Snow - Snowshoeing
Wildlife Observation

     No motorized use. Equestrian ONLY on 4 off road miles at northern end.

See more details.


Location: Southwest Iowa along the base of the Loess Hills - Council Bluffs, IA to Blanchard, IA along a former railroad corridor, this 63 mile long 4-county railtrail connects Blanchard northwest to Council Bluffs.

State(s): Iowa
Counties: Page, Fremont, Mills, Pottawattamie
Longitude: -95.817761
Latitude: 41.218381

Driving Directions

The Iowa West Foundation Council Bluffs Trailhead is near the Intersection of Hwy 275 & Hwy 92, where Harry Langdon Blvd (Wabash Ave) and East South Omaha Bridge Road meet, near Lewis Central School and Iowa School for the Deaf.

The Shenandoah Trailhead is at Sportsman's Park, on Ferguson Road (Hwy 48) east of Hwy 59, where Sycamore St. intersects Ferguson Road.

Many other access points along trail.


The Wabash Trace Nature Trail began as Iowa's longest rail trail. This 63-mile long crushed limestone trail was built in the late 1980s and early 1990s on a portion of the former Council Bluffs and St. Louis railroad. The trail is a pathway through a serene and unique landscape. Users can begin in the town of Blanchard along the Missouri/Iowa border and travel north through the communities of Coin, Shenandoah, Imogene, Malvern, Silver City, and Mineola on their way to the city of Council Bluffs on the Nebraska/Iowa border.

Recent trail additions now connect it to the Omaha metro area across the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. Nature and recreation enthusiasts are able to hike, run, bicycle, cross-country ski, bird watch, and participate in countless other activities. The northwestern portion of the trail exposes the natural wonder of the Loess Hills. The Loess Hills were formed from fine soil (loess) blown by the wind over thousands of years. This process resulted in the creation of 200-300 ft hills for 200 miles along the western border of Iowa. Only in Western Iowa and along the Yellow River in China can someone view Loess Hills to such depth and extent.

The trail intersects the Loess Hills National Scenic Byway in many places. The trail's grade remains a gentle 3% despite the fragile hills that line the path.Along the northeastern portion, the trail is encompassed by a tunnel of arched trees. Their shade is a welcoming sight to bicyclists in the summer. In the south, outdoor enthusiasts can travel through extensive remnant prairie near the City of Coin. Because of the natural resources protected by the trail, families, and individuals can observe a variety of wildlife including native plant species not found anywhere else in the state.

In addition to the majestic Loess Hills and treasured prairies, the Wabash Trace Nature Trail provides access to many historical and cultural resources including a portion of the Mormon Trail and the renovated Wabash Depot in Shenandoah. In Council Bluffs one can visit the Western Historic Trails Center (a National Park Service educational facility).The Wabash Trace Nature Trail was developed by the dedicated members of Southwest Iowa Nature Trail, Inc (SWINT). Countless volunteers make up SWINT, a private non-profit. They are responsible for the continual development and maintenance of the 63-mile trail. SWINT works closely with the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF) and participating County Conservation Boards to ensure the protection of the recreation and conservation corridor.

Additional Details

Width: 108 inches.
Primary Surface: Crushed Rock
Secondary Surface: Crushed Rock

Average Grade: 2%
Maximum Grade: 3%
Elevation Low Point: 1,000
Elevation High Point: 1,000
Elevation Gain (cumulative): Not Available

Year Designated:

Supporting Webpages and Documents

Website: Rails-to-Trails
Website: Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation
Website: Trail Information

Contact Information

For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.

Information Contact:
Southwest Iowa Nature Trail, Inc.
PO Box 581
Shenandoah, IA 51601
(712) 246-9589

Trail Management:
Rebecca Castle
Southwest Iowa Nature Trail, Inc. (SWINT)
304 W. Sheridan Ave.
Shenandoah, IA 51601
(515) 210-0269
[email protected]



 Photo by Jim Schmid.

Photo by Jim Schmid.

 Photo by Jim Schmid.

Photo by Jim Schmid.


 Photo by Jim Schmid.

Photo by Jim Schmid.

 Photo by Jim Schmid.

Photo by Jim Schmid.


Mulberry Trees near Silver City. Photo by Joe Bussey.

Mulberry Trees near Silver City. Photo by Joe Bussey.


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