Showcasing some of the finest of Iowa's countryside landscapes, the Raccoon River Valley trail stretches out for just under 90 miles, snaking its way through 14 different communities in three counties. The trail follows along an old railroad track that was built in the 1870's to connect the Great Lakes area with Des Moines, meaning that, just like most other rail trails, it is fully paved and features a relatively level grade, providing an easy, but long walk for you and Fido.
Being a long-distance trail, the scenery that you and your pooch will encounter along the way is incredibly diverse. Not only will you pass through patches of woodland, farmland, fields and colorful wildflower meadows, but the small rural communities you walk through will also give you a unique glimpse into daily life in the region.
Each town that you pass through on the Raccoon River Valley Trail has something a little different to offer. The most populated towns are Waukee and Perry, both of which offer food, water, restrooms and more for hikers. Thanks to the popularity of this trail, with over 320,000 hikers traversing it each year, even the smaller towns, from Jamaica to Minburn, offer a wide range of services for those passing through.
For those of you who want to learn more about the diverse terrain you and your pooch are walking through, you will come across a few signposts along your journey. These will teach you more about the landscape around you, from the trees that grow here to the eagles that fly high above. Speaking of trees, the majority of the trail is lined with shady mature trees on both sides, providing plenty of shade for you and Fido.
In order to walk the trail, you will need to first purchase a daily pass or an annual permit. This can be bought using the payment drop boxes at the various trailheads along the way. Whether you decide to use a smaller portion of the trail as an out-and-back walk, or set off on an 89 mile adventure to cover the entire trail, this is a journey that your pooch will definitely have so much fun on.