Sauk Rail Trail

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Trail Distance: 33 miles
Time Estimate: 13 h 20 min
Elevation Gain: 396 feet
Leash Rule: On Leash
Difficulty: Hard
Parking: Free
Route Type: Point-to-point
Restroom: Limited
Description

Set in the heart of the Black Hawk Lake watershed, the Sauk Rail Trail is one of the top-rated trails in all of Iowa. This 33 mile trail features a concrete or asphalt path the entire way, and is capped at both ends by large state parks.

Before you and Fido set off on the Sauk Rail Trail, you will need to purchase either a day or an annual permit, which can be bought at trailheads using the honor box system. The most popular starting point for the trail is at its north end in Lake View, which is right by the 86 acre Black Hawk Lake State Park.

As you and Fido meander through the north portion of the trail, you will pass by several historic rail features, such as a restored rail depot from 1905, complete with railroad memorabilia. You will also walk through a few small towns, where you will find facilities for hikers to use, such as restrooms and coffee shops.

As you reach the southern section of the trail, the terrain turns noticeably hillier, although there are plenty of benches along the way if you and your pup need to stop for a rest. The scenery around you will remain green, home to a variety of wildlife, and you and Fido will be rewarded with stunning lake views around each bend.

At the southern tip of the Sauk Rail Trail lies Swan Lake State Park, which is home to 510 acres of greenery, along with a 110 acre lake. There are camping facilities available both here and at Black Hawk Lake State Park, as well as restrooms, shower houses, and other useful amenities.

The Sauk Rail Trail is popular throughout the year, and is used for snowmobiling and cross-country skiing in the colder months. During the summer, there are several events and weekly organized rides held on the trail, so be sure to look these up in advance if your dog does not like crowds.

The Sauk Rail Trail is the only trail in Iowa that connects two state parks. With beautiful scenery and plenty of history, this is a trail that both you and your pooch will really enjoy. 

Trail Features
Lake
Abundant Wildlife, Scenic
Cautions & Considerations
The south portion of the trail is home to quite a bit of wildlife, especially rabbit and deer, so be sure to have a firm hold of your pup's lead if you know that your pooch has the tendency to try and chase these animals.
Address
22676 Swan Lake Trail
Carroll, IA 51401
Hours
Mon Sunrise - Sunset
Tue Sunrise - Sunset
Wed Sunrise - Sunset
Thu Sunrise - Sunset
Fri Sunrise - Sunset
Sat Sunrise - Sunset
Sun Sunrise - Sunset
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Address
22676 Swan Lake Trail
Carroll, IA 51401
Hours
Mon Sunrise - Sunset
Tue Sunrise - Sunset
Wed Sunrise - Sunset
Thu Sunrise - Sunset
Fri Sunrise - Sunset
Sat Sunrise - Sunset
Sun Sunrise - Sunset