Section Hiking the Wabash Trace Trail | Mineola to Dumfries | March 2021
The day after we hiked our first stretch of the West Papio trail, we decided to try out another long distance bike trail in Iowa. The Wabash Trace Trail is a rail trail following the old Wabash Rail Line which used to connect Council Bluffs, IA to St. Louis, MO. It’s now a bike/walking path that goes from outside Council Bluffs to the IA/MO border near Blanchard, IA. We aren’t really interested in backpacking it, but like the Papio Trail (and other bike trails around Omaha) we plan on section hiking it when we get the chance.
On the last Saturday of March, we decided to hike our first section of the trail, so we crossed the Missouri River into Iowa. The first 5 miles of the trail seem to mostly go through residential areas outside of Council Bluffs, so we chose the next section over in order to enjoy walking in the countryside. We planned to start near the site of the old town of Dumfries, but when we arrived at the trail crossing we found that there was nowhere to park. Instead, we continued driving to Mineola, where we found a small parking area for the trail and did our walk in reverse.
It was another overcast day, yet perfectly comfortable for hiking. We strapped on our giant backpacks and began heading Northwest. The main differences between this trail and the Omaha bike trail system are that this one is gravel, not paved, and that instead of being around a city and its suburbs, you’re walking through the beautiful, peaceful Iowa fields and farms. This early in the season, we only saw 3-4 pairs of people enjoying the trail as well.
Some points of interest on the stretch of trail we walked today were walking through Cowboy’s Pass, the Old Goat overlook, and ‘Margaritaville’; a stop presumably for biker gatherings. Another highlight along this trail are all the wooden trestle bridges going over the many creeks.
We ended up walking to where the trail cuts under Dumfries Ave, which is where the old town of Dumfries used to be. Now, there’s only a small plaque along the trail to remember the town, though there was still quite a few houses nearby, at least relative to the rest of the trail we had walked. We turned around here and began our trek back to Mineola. Altogether, today’s walk was 8 miles long round-trip – only 59 more miles to go!