Section Hiking the Wabash Trace Trail | Coin to Blanchard, IA | Camping in Coin | July 2022
After we hiked our last section of the Wabash Trace, from F Ave to Coin, we knew it would take 2 more days to finish the trail from Coin to Blanchard. We also knew that we were possibly running low on time to finish, especially since summer arriving meant many more hot and humid days. Since the trailheads were over an hour away, this would also take planning and real motivation to get up early and beat the heat.
With all this in consideration, I came up with the brilliant idea that we should camp at the campground in Coin where we had parked before, hike the first section in the evening, then rise early and only have a 10 minute drive to the trailhead in Blanchard for our second hike. This would allow us to hike during optimal times, only have to drive out and back one more time, and would give us the experience of camping along the Wabash Trace. All we had to do was wait for a free weekend with optimal weather — not too hot and humid, and no rain predicted.
The end of July provided the perfect weekend for this adventure, and so after spending a Saturday afternoon at the Maker’s Space in Glenwood, we set off for Coin. When we arrived, we set up our tent in the empty campground, which is a big green space with a pavilion, picnic tables, and a small bathroom with a shower, right along the Wabash Trail for $5/night for tents. It would have been perfect if only the water was running in the bathroom — there aren’t any campground hosts, and we couldn’t find a way to turn it on. Thankfully we had brought enough water to drink for both hikes and to use to make dinner!
Once everything was set up and we felt the temperature was comfortable for walking, we began our evening walk heading South toward Blanchard. The unfortunate part about the Southern end of the Wabash Trace is that it runs parallel to the road, but at least there’s a barrier of trees and it isn’t a very busy road. We walked just over 5 miles that evening, a little under halfway to Blanchard with 290th Street being our turn around point. We saw a couple racoons while walking and found pretty blue feathers on the path. Curtis snacked on mulberries and we watched the sun set as we made our way back. Click here to see our evening trail recording.
We made cheesy pasta for dinner, Curtis did a little metal detecting and I read until it was time for bed. It was a quiet and peaceful night for camping, and we all slept soundly.
We awoke around 6 the next morning and quickly and quietly packed up our things. We drove down to Blanchard and parked in the small grass lot right next to the end of the trail. There was a thick layer of fog over the cornfields, and the sunrise cast a soft pastel light on the area. The air was cool, which made for a pleasant morning walk. It was just under 7 miles round trip, and before we knew it, we were finishing the trail together, all 3 of us, side by side. We made sure to snap one last family picture on the last bridge before finishing. We did it! To see our morning walk recording, click here.
It’s been a fun adventure and common goal to hike the length of Iowa’s longest rail trail. And technically we’ve hiked it twice, considering we’ve always hiked out and back. It’s taken us just over 16 months to go 63 miles (x2), having started back in March ’21. But we can also say that we’ve hiked the trail in all of its seasons. Our favorite parts were probably the Loess Hills between Council Bluffs and Mineola, as well as the old rail bridges spanning the numerous rivers that we crossed. If you’re interested, here is a link to every post we’ve written about our section hike.