As a country kid the only route option for bike rides was the gravel road. Rides were out-n-backs with landmarks as the turn around point. On a recent visit back home I took a bike ride down memory lane.
This was the most frequent route as it was the closest to home. The wide T intersection was perfect for turning around after skidding to a stop.
The White Telephone Pole
A popular route for walks with Mom, and sometimes even the cat! The pole has has since been replaced with one like all the rest.
For more adventurous rides. Back then this destination seemed so far from home. My brother once rode back home with a bucket of bullheads hanging from his handlebars.
Not much on this route had changed. It did seem shorter though, which was good. I forgot to leave Mom a note saying "going to the creek" and needed to hurry back home.
Voted one of the prettiest rails-to-trails in the US, the Wabash Trace Nature Trail is Iowa's longest. It travels from Council Bluffs to the Missouri border for a total of 63 miles. There are over 70 bridges to cross and 7 towns to visit along the way.
The Wabash Trace has gotten plenty of press with it's appearance on Bike People TV, acknowledgment from Outside Magazine, and a member of Rails-To-Trails Conservancy's Hall of Fame. There are websites dedicated to the trail along with a Facebook page. The trail was also the location of this year's Peddler's Jamboree and is a Thursday evening hot spot for the local Taco Ride to Tobey Jack’s.
The trailhead in Council Bluffs has ample parking, a picnic shelter, playground and portable restrooms. Then there's the dense tree canopy and the Loess Hills, both beautiful features.
A $1.00 daily pass is a recommended for those over 12 and under 64 years old. Yellow trail pass drop boxes can be found at trailheads. Money goes towards trail maintenance.
It's been an embarrassing amount of time since I declared the Wabash being a trail I was going to ride. Two years later it finally happened!
With plans for a bike ride followed by an afternoon in Omaha, our family headed west. We took along mountain bikes for the unpaved trail. The limestone surface turned out to be in great shape and skinny tire friendly.
The morning was a busy one with lots of folks out for a run or a ride. We stopped for a short break at what's known as Margaritaville and then had a breakfast snack at the trailhead in Mineola. It was cool to find a Little Free Library there!
Pedaling along on the flat trail I would get a peek at what appeared to be a mountain bike trail winding up over bluffs and through timber. Then I remembered it was an equestrian trail. Boy do they have a tougher way to go!
There were so many shade of green! The Wabash Trace would be a fantastic trail for seeing fall colors too. Perhaps I should plan on doing just that...and not wait two years to do it.
The morning had only two items on the agenda: Bicycling and hammocking.
With my gear tucked away in my pannier I headed out on the Raccoon River Valley Trail. My destination was Hanging Rock Park in Redfield. It's a secluded gem with it's sandstone ledges and shady spots for a restful bike break. (For additional information on Hanging Rock Park check out this previous write-up.)
I made a stop at the Adel "plaza" to admire the new trail signage and then experienced disappointment when finding the water fountain inoperable. A pretty trailhead is nice, but I think this is an example of where function needs to be the priority.
Wild plums along the trail still need ripening time. I picked a couple and found them super tart. The tree canopy was in it's glory and the trail surface in better condition. Kudos to the folks who filled the gaps and smoothed the bumps!
Arriving at Hanging Rock I set up the hammock and then explored around. Man the water was muddy! I had a the place to myself until I heard the noon whistle blow in town. Then a gentleman arrived for his lunch break. He said hello and asked a few questions about my hammock before heading back to the brick plant. Lucky me didn't have anywhere to be but hanging among the trees.