Cinder Path, stretching between the sleepy towns of Cheriton and Humeston in southern Iowa, might appear unassuming to those unfamiliar with Iowa's great trail history. But don't let the rugged surface or the untamed vegetation fool youCinder Path is notable for being Iowa's first rails-to-trails conversion in 1974. That year, Lucas County Conservation Board purchased the 13.5 mile abandoned railroad from Burlington Northern Railroad Company and began the process of converting the line into a trail. This was largely made possible due to the efforts of Dwaine Clanin, a local resident whose contributions to Cinder Path's development is memorialized through a monument placed at the trailhead in Chariton.
The trail follows the Chariton River for part of its route and is shaded by dense tree cover, making riding or walking in the heat an enjoyable activity. In the winter, cross-country skiing or snowmobiling are fine options, but be aware that snowmobiling is only permitted on the Lucas County portion of the trail. Cinder Path's northern endpoint in Charitonperhaps best known as the former corporate headquarters of the Hy-Vee supermarket chainis located only a short distance from Red Haw State Park, where boaters and swimmers can get in the water at Red Haw Lake.
On its route from Chariton to Humeston, Cinder Path crosses many wooden bridges, including a rare covered bridge. Shelters and benches are also scattered along the trail. In Derby, the small town near the trail's midpoint, there is a short on-road section on Derby Avenue. Just be sure to follow the low-traffic road to its end to avoid trespassing. At Cinder Path's southern endpoint in Humeston, the old train depot has been converted into the town's Depot Museum and City Hall.
Cinder Path may not be as well maintained as some users of rail-trails are accustomed. The surface can be hard to navigate (especially when wet) and vegetation may be overgrown. Don't let that discourage you from checking this great trail outuse your fat-tire bike and spend a memorable afternoon on Cinder Path.
Parking and Trail Access
While there are no dedicated parking lots for Cinder Path, parking is plentiful on city streets in Chariton, Derby and Humeston.
Still in need of Maintenance
Due to rain, I just took some pictures from my van at the south end in Humeston and where the trail crosses Rd 410, 0.7 miles SW of Derby. Trail appears to overgrown and in need of maintenance Noel Keller 12 Oct 11
As of June, 2011, this trail has not been maintained in a few years. If there has been any rain, the trail bed is extremely soft. The trail will quickly sap your strength as your tires sink in. The trail bed is in high need of more gravel or stone. Most ...
A Very Enjoyable Ride
This is a wonderful trail for those who are willing to try a an unpaved trail.
The route is deeply wooded and has a number of unique bridges, associated developments and trail amenities that make it special.
We were not able to take the trail south ...