Raccoon River Valley Trail

Trail Map

Description Suggest an Edit

The Raccoon River Valley Trail runs along an abandoned railroad right-of-way that was first built in the 1870s to carry rail traffic between Des Moines and the Great Lakes region. The route encompasses a wide range of landscapes, from suburban neighborhoods in the southeast to wooded stretches, prairie, farmland, and small rural communities. Each town offers limited services and amenities.

The 'north loop' of the Raccoon River Valley Trail begins in Waukee and runs 19 miles northwest through Dallas County and the towns of Dallas Center, Minburn, and Perry. In Perry, the trail alters its course and runs due west for 13 miles through the towns of Dawson, Jamaica (entering Guthrie County), and Herndon.

Future plans call for the creation of a new trail branching east from Perry to Woodward, which would connect with the High Trestle Trail. A highlight of that trail is its distinctive bridge with an eye-catching design that rises 13 stories over the Des Moines River.

The Raccoon River Valley Trail splits at a T-juncture in Herndon. The branch heading north extends nearly 13 miles through Greene County, passing through Cooper on the way to its end in Jefferson.

The trail heading south goes through Yale and Panora, then turns southeast through Linden and Redfield, then east through Adel, Ortonville, and Waukee to complete the loop. From Waukee, the trail continues east to Clive and the western edge of Polk County. In Clive, the Raccoon River Valley Trail links with the urban Clive Greenbelt Trail, which heads east toward Des Moines.

To use the Raccoon River Valley Trail, you must pay a nominal fee (only those over 18) per day, or you can buy a yearly pass. All proceeds go to the conservation boards in the three counties through which the trail passes, and the money is used for trail maintenance and improvements. You can get a permit in many offices and businesses along the trail (look for the signs), or you can put your fee in one of many lock boxes found along the route.

Parking and Trail Access

You can access the Raccoon River Valley Trail from many places along the route. In Jefferson, access and parking is at the restored Jefferson Depot, CR E53 (old Highway 30). In Waukee, you can park at the intersection of US 6 and CR R22. Trailheads are also found in Adel, Ortonville, Redfield, Linden, Panora, Yale, Herndon, Cooper, Dallas Center, Minburn, Perry, and Dawson. For more information view the trail map.


Raccoon River Trail Ride

   August, 2016 by weaverdennisl

95% of this ride is smooth riding. It is rough from Yale to Jefferson. Whoever repaired this part of the trail should be forced to get on a bike and ride it. This should be repaired ASAP. Now for the rest of the ride, we LOVED IT! We ate lunch in the ...read more

Enjoyable Two Days

   July, 2016 by webuy

My wife and I rode the entire trail over two days. We rode from Waukee to Jefferson going through Perry on Day 1. All total, with a little bit extra riding in Perry, we rode 46.5 miles. The trail from Waukee to Herndon is all concrete. You could not make ...read more

Great Ride, but....

   May, 2016 by lsvien_tl

Had a great ride today. The trail is great and you can see that they have put a ton of resources into both the RRVT and the High Trestle Trail. In all our travels I don't thing I have seen as well maintained trail or facilities. But the trail etiquette ...read more