Tired of the same mundane neighborhood stroll every day? Leash up Fido and see what the wide-open spaces of central Iowa have to offer! The Chichaqua Valley Trail is a furrific place for city pups to get some fresh air. This scenic path stretches over 27 miles of rolling farmland, flower-covered meadows, and lush forests from the old coal mining town of Berwick to the city of Baxter. This path follows the original railway that was built in 1885 and abandoned in 1984, only to be reclaimed as a walking trail shortly after.
The path was entirely paved recently, making it much more accessible for packs with physical limitations. Another pawesome quality is that there are trailheads evenly spaced every few miles with bathrooms, picnic areas, and parking. These extra parking lots and trailheads allow walkers to customize the length of their walk.
If you want to start from the Berwick side, you can park and access the trail from Mally’s Weh-Weh-Neh-Kee Park. You will journey east for 5 miles over picturesque farmland until you reach the trailhead park in the city of Bondurant. Here, you will see a beautiful replica of the old depot station, a well as a 1,440 square foot open-air shelter, restrooms, and a water station.
After recharging, you can head northeast toward Santiago; 2.5 miles in, you will find another trailhead with restrooms and parking. Your pup will love the exciting smells of plants and wildlife along the Santiago Creek greenbelt. After traveling a few miles, you will cross the antique Skunk River Railroad Bridge. You will pass three more trailheads in Valeria, Mingo, and Ira as you meander over several through the Chichaqua Wildlife Management Area. Your walk will come to an end at the antique caboose in the city of Baxter. Don't don those puppy dog eyes, though! This trail is open year-round with extended hours in the summer! What a treat!