Iowa map

State Coordinator
Butch Niebuhr
364 332nd Place
Perry IA 50220

General Overview
Iowa was landscaped during the Ice Age by four massive glaciers that smoothed out some of the hills and left perhaps the most fertile soil in the world. Farms take up about 90 percent of the gently rolling land that produces more corn and beans than any other state, as well as many other crops. Iowa is also the leading manufacturer of farm and road construction machinery. Iowa became a part of the United States in 1803 with the Louisiana Purchase and the twenty-ninth state in 1846. The state’s nickname, the Hawkeye State, is said to honor Chief Black Hawk who led the Sauk and Fox tribes during the Black Hawk War of 1832.

Detailed Trail Description
The trail is divided into 6 segments totaling 512 miles, mostly existing rail-trails:

Davenport to Cedar Rapids – 97 miles
The American Discovery Trail enters Iowa at Davenport and begins its journey on one of the many rail-trail projects that have made Iowa a leader in the conversion of abandoned rail rights-of-way into recreation and non-highway transportation corridors. The route through downtown Davenport is on the Riverfront Trail, which is partly on a rail-with-trail along the Mississippi River.
Leaving Davenport, the ADT temporarily follows highway 22, through Wildcat Den State Park, to Muscatine, the town where Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) lived and found inspiration for some of his writings. The ADT in Muscatine is on a newly constructed trail along the Mississippi River before turning west, where it eventually joins the Hoover Nature Trail, a former rail line, at Conesville. Heading north through Nichols and West Liberty, the Hoover Nature Trail passes through West Branch, the birthplace of President Hoover and the site of his memorial library. Continuing north, the Hoover Nature Trail goes through Oasis, Morse, Solon, and Ely and into Cedar Rapids, where the ADT is on the metro trail system.

Cedar Rapids to Waterloo – 62 miles
The ADT continues on a paved trail through Hiawatha to the 52-mile-long Cedar Valley Nature Trail’s southernmost point, at the northern edge of that city. The Cedar Valley Nature Trail is one of our nation’s first rail-trail projects. This largely paved trail follows the Cedar River and is well-used by area residents, attracting many out-of-state trail users as well. The depots at Center Point and Gilbertville have been faithfully restored. The northern end of the Cedar Valley Nature Trail is across from Deerwood Park in Evansdale. The Cedar Prairie Trail, a newly developing trail, will begin here and take the ADT into Waterloo, where the Cedar Valley Lakes Trail and trails in George Wyth Memorial State Park become the route. The trail in this park is marked as the northernmost point of the ADT. 

Waterloo to Marshalltown – 79 miles
The Waterloo-Cedar Falls metro area is where the ADT turns south onto the Sergeant Road Trail to Hudson and then on farm-to-market roads to Voorhies and then west to Reinbeck. From here through Morrison to Grundy Center, the ADT is on the Pioneer Trail, another packed limestone rail-trail. Again on farm-to-market roads, the ADT heads south to Beaman, then turns west and joins the Comet Trail to Conrad, where back roads take the ADT into Marshalltown. There the ADT is on local trails, then less-traveled roads going southwest to the Heart of Iowa Trail.

Marshalltown to Des Moines – 81 miles
The Heart of Iowa Trail begins south of Marshalltown at Melbourne, continuing through Rhodes, Collins, and Maxwell, to Slater. There, after a few miles on back roads, it meets up with the Saylorville and Neal Smith trails, which take the ADT into Des Moines.

Des Moines to Atlantic – 117 miles
West of Des Moines, at Clive, the ADT becomes part of the Raccoon River Valley Trail, which winds through prairie remnants and bottomland timber areas and passes through Waukee, Adel, Redfield, Linden, and Panora to Herndon. Adel has a beautifully restored railroad depot. The ADT leaves the Raccoon River Valley Trail to go west on highway E63, which leads to Coon Rapids (home of the 4,300-acre Whiterock Conservancy along the Middle Raccoon River), where the trail turns south on highway N46. The ADT follows highway N46 to highway F32, heading west into Audubon, where the ADT joins the T Bone Trail through Hamlin, Exira, and Brayton to Atlantic. 

Atlantic to Council Bluffs – 76 miles
From Atlantic, the ADT traverses highway G30, then M56, through Lewis and Cold Springs State Park, following highway 48 to Red Oak. It goes west on old highway 34, through Emerson to Hastings. From here the ADT goes south on M16 and west on H38 to Malvern, where it joins the Wabash Trace Trail, going through Silver City and Mineola, near the National Park Service’s Long Distance Trail Center. At Council Bluffs, it crosses the Missouri River into Nebraska using the beautiful new 3,000-foot-long Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge.

The most up-to-date, detailed trail directions are published in the ADT Data Books.

We welcome our newest Trail Affiliate – Cedar Valley Cyclists

Affiliated Trails & Organizations

  • Cedar Valley Cyclists
  • Riverfront Trail
  • Hoover Nature Trail
  • Cedar River Trail
  • Cedar Valley Nature Trail
  • Cedar Valley Lakes Trail
  • Pioneer Trail
  • Comet Trail
  • Heart of Iowa Nature Trail
  • Saylorville-Des Moines River Trail
  • Raccoon River Valley Trail
  • T-Bone Trail
  • Wabash Trace Trail
  • Cedar Lake Trail
  • Whiterock Conservancy


  • Deerwood Park
  • George Wyth State Park
  • Wild Cat Den State Park
  • Pleasant Creek State Park

Points of Interest

  • Living History Farms
  • National Park Service National Trail Center
  • President Herbert Hoover Birthplace
  • National Czech and Slovac Museum
  • University of Northern Iowa
  • University of Iowa
  • Danish Villages
  • Grimes Farm
  • Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge

Support The Trail – join the American Discovery Trail Society Today

Adjoining Trail States:  Indiana Nebraska