Aptly named, the Heart of Iowa Nature trail travels through central Iowa from Slater to Melbourne and is part of the American Discovery Trail. The majority of the HOINT is crushed limestone, but also includes portions of paved and gravel roads. The trail is wide with an equestrian trail along it’s shoulder.
Slater, Huxley, Collins and Rhodes have restrooms and water at their trailheads. The trail connects to the High Trestle Trail in Slater and the Iowa 330 Trail in Melbourne.
I had heard conflicting reports on the status of this trail. Was it passable? How far would I be able to go? Having borrowed a bike with some fatter tires and durable tread my plan was to leave Huxley and see how far past Cambridge I could get before trail conditions proved too challenging.
The Huxley trailhead is a beauty, complete with clean bathrooms, a small amphitheatre, and playground. Making my way out of town I met a group of runners coming back from a morning workout. They would end up being the only people I saw on the trail. I did share it with several critters though. A snake, a toad, and a wooly caterpillar were all on there way to somewhere important.
It was windy that afternoon with gusts around 20 mph, but the shelter of the trees turned it more into a breeze. Fall was beginning to show it’s colors along the trail. Yellows, oranges and bright bursts of red made for some beautiful scenery.
Trail conditions were ideal between Huxley and Cambridge with the limestone dry and packed. However, between Cambridge and Maxwell things got a little tricky but the mountain bike handled the sand, mud, bumps, and loose gravel perfectly. I felt pretty adventurous as this was the first time I had ridden terrain like this. It was a fun way to add some variety to my usual trail riding.
Successfully reaching Maxwell I took a short break on the outskirts of town. I could have ridden into town and found the park or a convenience store, but the beautiful surroundings kept my break trailside.
Making my way back to Huxley I thought of how ridiculous it was for me not to have ridden this fantastic trail before. With other trail segments to explore and a mountain bike to borrow I can’t wait to spend more time on the Heart of Iowa Nature Trail.