Heritage Trail (IA)

Iowa

Heritage Trail (IA) Facts

States: Iowa
Counties: Dubuque
Length: 29.4 miles
Trail end points: Elm St. and E. 22nd St. (Dubuque) and Beltline Rd. east of 3rd St. NE (Dyersville)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt, Crushed Stone
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6015623
Trail activites: Bike, Inline Skating, Fishing, Wheelchair Accessible, Snowmobiling, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

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Heritage Trail (IA) Description

Iowa's Heritage Trail runs for nearly 30 miles between the city of Dubuque and the town of Dyersville to the west. Short portions of the trail are paved within the two communities, but the vast majority of the path has a crushed limestone surface. The entirety of the trail follows an old railroad corridor of the former Chicago Northwestern line. You'll see remnants of the area's milling and mining past along the way, which were linked via the rails.

Other towns you'll pass through are Farley, Epworth, Graf, Twin Springs, Budd Road and Durango. But the Heritage Trail also features scenic landscapes of woodland, farmland, limestone bluffs, prairies and wetlands.

Snowmobiles are allowed on the length of the trail when snow reaches a depth of 4 inches, but horses are not permitted anywhere on the trail. There is a day-use fee to use the trail. Refer to the Dubuque County website for information on where to buy trail passes.

Parking and Trail Access

A large parking lot for the Heritage Trail is available in Sageville on Rupp Hollow Road. Additional parking can be found in Durango, Twin Spring, Graf, Epworth, Farley and Dyersville (at the western terminus).

Heritage Trail (IA) Reviews

Iowas great secret! We went to "destination trail" in Minnesota the week before our 1st visit to Heritage Trail and I was afraid of being underwhelmed by a nearby Iowa trail.Wrong!This the Root River Trail,just on a smaller scale.It is a beautiful,scenic,historic trail and such a magical place.Durango is a great starting place going in either direction.A must do in our state!

Nice trail though very busy with bikers. If looking for a 4 mile Sunday stroll start in Sageville and walk to the old bridge for lunch and back!

We had a wonderful day biking this trail on 8 Aug 2106! It is extremely well maintained and the scenery is wonderful, with the first 2/3 in shady groves with limestone bluffs and the last part between Farley and Dyersville through cornfields. There was a warning about a bridge out but the road names are not on the trail map, so here's the deal: there is a bridge down near Farley, about 0.5 mile W of Boge Road. It is not possible to walk around the bridge. However, if coming from Sageville, turn left onto Boge Road which is gravel and a bit tricky to cycle on, but the section is very short up to Hwy 20/Old Highway. Turn right on the highway (not much traffic) and continue to the next right turn towards Farley (just before the rail bridge over the road). Keep taking the 'truck route' until you get to Holy Cross Rd and turn right. At the bottom of the hill, there is a track running off the right side of the road down to the trail. The trail goes through a culvert under the road so you can't see it from the road. Turn left on the trail to continue to Dyersville. Highly recommended trail!

Accordion

If your near Dubuque, Iowa, I recommend this trail very highly. It's relatively flat with good scenery.

There is a bridge out about 1 -2 miles east of Farley. Trail is closed there.

In general, I prefer paved trails over packed limestone. But I agree with other reviewers that this trail's limestone is very firm and smoother tha a lot of pavements. I only rode from near Epworth to Sageville, so I never got out by Dyersville. The portion I rode was beautiful, with only gentle slopes and lots of shade. I saw 5 chipmunks, a beaver, and a deer crossing the trail in front of me.
There is a usage fee of $2.10 per day (fill out a form and put it in an envelope for the drop-box), which is well worth it for the excellent surface, the signage, and the occasional porta-potty along the route.

My wife and I have ridden the trail numerous times. We have ridden the entire trail, but never all at once. We typically ride 10-15 miles in one direction and then return to our car.

The trail is in wonderful condition. When there have been rough spots they have been marked (often with orange cones) and quickly fixed.

Most of the trail is beautiful. Not so much near the Dyersville end. We routinely see wildlife from the trail.

We recommend stopping to eat in Durango. We have been quite happy with the meals we have gotten there.

Having recently completed "trails only" bicycle rides from Canada to Mexico; traversing America riding trails latitude by latitude, I discovered the best trail I have ever ridden was right here in Iowa. Traversing America via Rail Trails Only (TAvRTO)on over 100 trails and more than 2,300 miles of riding, gives me perspective as to the beauty and utility of a bicycle trail. The Heritage trail is the smoothest, hardest packed limestone trail of all the others I have ridden. My friend Mark and I caught a perfect day to ride a perfect trail. Like many rail trails, a canopy of trees kept off excess sun and if there were a 15 mph head wind---it was only 5 mph that day, the trees would have buffered wind effect as well. The dark green fields of corn, the wild flowers a glow along the trail made this late spring ride spectacular! This is a destination trail where a conditioned rider could do an out back trip from Dyersville to Dubuque or visa versa. I was so impressed with the Heritage Trail, that I made every effort to congratulate workmen and conservation officers on the trail. I think any state, county or city that plans to build a limestone recreational trail, the should consult with the Dubuque County Conservation board. This is the first trail of all I have ridden, where the smoothness of the limestone trail was equal, if not better, than asphalt or concrete. This is a bold statement given the trail had received five inches of rain just a day before an the and yet narrow tires (1.25) did not sinking one bit into the surface---I have not seen that before. Great trail Dubuque County Iowa

Dubuque County’s Heritage Bike Trail in Iowa runs from Elm St./22nd St. in Dubuque west to Dyersville. Running mainly through woodlands with hills & farmland in the backround, & along the Little Maquoketa River, this well maintained, well marked (w/cross road signage), very hard packed crushed limestone, quite picturesque & enjoyable trail slopes gently up & down over its 30 miles, but overall, it is more (slightly) sloping upward going west. We just rode this trail in late Sept. & it was beautiful & not heavily used during weekdays; watch for many falling large black walnuts (the maintenance crew blows them off a few times/week during this season). Trail passes are very reasonable @ $2.10/day (yearly also available).
Since there is scant internet info available about this trail (I think because it’s a county trail), the following may be of interest to some of you who like to know where a nearby road-crossing-trail pickup point is for that possible emergency.
I’ve listed all roads crossing the trail, then the distance to next road, & any info which may be of use, starting in Dubuque at:
*Elm St./22nd St. (2.7 miles; blacktop, dedicated bike path, very easy to follow; parking)
*Peru Rd. (2.3 mi.; blacktop, dedicated bike path, includes new bridge over Hwy 52)
*Rupp Hollow Rd. (2.1 mi.; parking, toilets; from this point west, surface is crushed limestone)
*Clay Hill Rd. (Google Maps shows this as “Access Rd.”) (1.6 mi.)
*Burton Furnace Rd. (1.4 mi.; this is in Durango; parking)
*Cedar Ridge Rd. (2 mi.)
*Budd Rd. (2 mi.)
*Ashbury Rd. (aka D-17) (1.3 mi.; parking, {GPS aid: nearby street address sign is 18154 Twin Springs Access})
*Stagecoach Ln. (.4 mi.)
*Potter Hill Rd. (.8 mi. to parking in Graf)
*Graf Rd. skirts along trail in tiny Graf where there is parking/toilet/shelter/playground…another .5 mi. & the trail actually crosses Graf Rd. (13085, a very nearby driveway address)
*Thielen Rd. (Google Maps shows this, but trail never crosses such a road)
*Girl Scout Rd. (.2 mi. from previous Graf Rd.; 2.9 mi. to next rd.)
*Gun Club Rd. (1.5 mi.; this road is 1st Ave. running north out of Epworth; parking)
*Fishpond Rd. (1.3)
*Boge Rd. (1.1 mi.)
*Wilson Rd. (.4 mi.; Wilson is probably mis-named on Google Maps: trail never crosses such a road, but does cross Cemetary Rd. – nearby sign address is 11136)
*Holy Cross Rd. (aka Y-13) (.8 mi.; parking; Farley just to south; portapotty .7 mi., just before Jamesmeier Rd.)
*Jamesmeier Rd. (3.7 mi.; 3 mi. of this is open, farmland to north, Hwy. 20 to south, so wind can be a factor)
*Prier Rd. crosses w/Finch Dr. (address 12199 Finch) (1.3 mi.)
*Sullivan Rd. (another Google Maps road which does not exist… it is probably Prier Rd.)
*Olde Hawkeye Rd. (same as Sullivan; trail never crosses this Goggle Maps listed road)
*Dyersville (trailhead @ 9th St (aka Hwy 136) & Beltline Rd.; parking, shelter, water)

BTW, if you are at the beginning of the trail in Dubuque, you can go south on Elm to 16th St., turn left, go over bridge to find the 3 mile Huron trail along the Mississippi which ends @ McDonald Park (parking/toilets/water).

I was very impressed during my first ever ride on the heritage trail last week. This is the quintessential recreational trail that offers users many opportunities to explore a diverse landscape. For example, the Dubuque part of the ride is heavily wooded with some hilly areas that double as skiing slopes in the winter. Going into Dubuque, the trail becomes paved entering into a rather rough neighborhood (by my perception) that is poorly marked by any signage. Hence, I became lost and ultimately turned around; since there was no reason to explore the city further. The towns along the Heritage trail are about five to ten miles apart which provides an ample challenge in the event you ride the whole length of the trail which is between 25-30 miles long.

As it currently stands, I found most of the towns offer meager amenities so providing your own water is recommended. As such, the DNR does an admirable job of providing information hubs to users that often have drinking fountains and portable restrooms.

Some of my favorite portions of the path elicit farmland that is covered in pasture where many black Angus cattle frequently graze. The cattle are fairly tame and go about their business with no care in the world. I got a kick out of the baby cattle who would run and jump with joy. In addition, I also came across many species of wildlife including: fox, deer, bald eagles, cardinals, blue jays, snakes, etc. All in all the Heritage trail is a must if you are in the area! The trail ends in Dyersville, a larger town providing more opportunities to either grab a bite to eat or visit the famous "Field of Dreams."

The trail is in excellent shape after its renovation. Started at Dyersville making it a round trip ride. Rode 50 miles on it on Sunday over this labor day weekend. The worst part about it my friend and I got dehydrated. There are no water stops we learned on any area of this trail. Beautiful picnic sheltered areas especially in Graf, and Sageville, but no water faucets any where. We both ran out of water. As it does not pass through towns they are off trail so not convenient to get to. So be sure if you ride you take alot of water especially on hot humid days like we have in Iowa in the summers. To the people that are locals in the area of the trail. PLEASE see about supplying water for the riders. Only trail so far we have been on that has lack of water for riders convenience.

Thank-you.

My honey and I rode from Dubuque west 17 miles and back. I was impressed with the condition of the trails and the quality of the bridges. This is very positive reflection on the state of Iowa for caring for this trail. I rode the Katy trail out and back last year and thought that the Heritage by far was more enjoyable. I will make the 100 mile drive again to ride the trail this fall when the leaves change.

My husband and I rode the trail from Durango just beyond Graf. It was simply one of the most beautiful scenic trails we have been on. The limestone bluffs, the canopy of trees and the flowing river made for such a scenic ride. The gentle slope towards Graf made for a relatively easy ride as well and certainly a much easier ride on the way back. We cannot wait to ride this trail in the Fall when the leaves are beginning to turn their brilliant colors. Thank you for maintaining such a wonderful place to ride Reapectfullly, Jim and Sharyl

We rode the Heritage trail
Sept 4th and 5th, 2013 and it was in great shape. The DNR guy said they had just finished a million and 1/2 dollar renovation of trails and bridges due to flooding in the last 2-3 years. The trail was very enjoyable beautiful, quiet, shaded mostly countryside. Recommend highly.

Trail was in great condition. Beautiful scenery. Would highly recommend. We got on at Sageville - there is a parking lot right off Rt 52. We rode west from there to Graf.

We biked from Durango to Graff, back to Durango and on to Sageville in June, 2012. The trail damage from the flash flood in 2011 has been repaired. The gravel on the trail was hard packed gravel in most places. Daily trail passes are required @ $2.10 per person. We purchased ours on the trail where envelopes were provided in Graff.

Flash flooding in late July has destroyed the portion of the trail from the Sageville trailhead at least to Durango -- the bridge at Durango is completely destroyed. It will be a long time before this west end of the trail is in service again. :(

This is a very nice ride, especially with fall colors. I started at the trailhead north of Dubuque (the present eastern terminus). I rode rather slowly, stopping to take pictures along the way of beautiful hillsides with trees in full fall color. The little town stop trailheads along the way were very nice. The mileage markers are sufficient without being distracting. I made it to Dyersville for my lunch break. A little dissappointed that I ddint find much other than one bench and a sign. Shady picnic tables and water would have been nice because I didn't really rest enough for the 25 miles back. But along the way back it was easy to find shady spots at a bridge or bench for mini-breaks. Although the last 3 miles were tough, I made the 50 mile round trip. I will do it again, hopefully before the snow falls.

If you like nature, don't miss this trail! We started at the Dubuque end and headed west 20 miles to just past the Farley exit. A wonderful winding river follows you for miles. Stone cliffs on one side, scenic valleys and rolling hills. A picturesque valley at the 15 to 16 mile mark. One spot gets you a great scene of Americana to the north with a stone church, farm with silo and house with American flag flying all in the same view. Just great! Of course it didn't hurt that we were there on a warm, sunny October weekend with the colors in full change.
I would highly recommend going west first as it's up hill all the way. No kidding, it is! But this trail is so scenic it makes the downhill return trip very worth it.
I would avoid this trail on a road bike. It is a little softer than some. But for a hybrid, mountain bike or our recumbent tandem it is just fabulous.
Estimatehub

We started in Durango and 5.4 miles heading west. Several "road closed" signs. Other bikers told us that once we cross the bridge and walked 1/4 mile the trail would be fine and it was. Additional bikers told us that the trail east bound, had substantial damage.
Trail was find for hybrid bikes (and adventurous skinny tire riders).
Nice tree cover. Followed river. Scenic farms. Interesting rocks/geology. and a ski slope. (Ski slope in Iowa???). A great R2T path. Wish we had more time and could have covered more ground.

I stayed in Dubuque with the trail easy to get to. Good signage on the road to get there. Did a late afternoon ride with a true sense of mother nature around me. Sights and sounds were in abundance. I look forward to the next time.

"Peddled this fine and interesting trail with the help of Ernie & Betty, who I met shortly after starting from Dyersville, they gave me a copy of the Trail Guide, that gave History, Geological features and points of interest. No problems with my 41” wide Tri-Cruiser. Since I provide my own SAG, I unloaded at Dyersville N42.48360 W091.11234 842’ MSL, rode to Farley and back. Then repositioned to Kidder riding to Farley and back to Kidder for the first day. The second Day I started at Gaf N42.49166 W090.87224, Riding to Kidder, returned to Twin Springs & return to Kidder in the morning. Finished the trail using Durango N42.56076 W090.77312 647’ MSL, as my base and also a good hydration stop. Aug 21 & 22 August 06. "

"We rode the trail from Dyersville to Sageville and back. The eastern two-thirds of the trail provided a wonderful shaded canopy, and this should prove to be a beautiful fall coloring ride. Be sure to bring water, especially on a hot day. There is no water available, save for a bar at Durango which has vending machines. The Dyersville pavilion at route 136 has a picnic area and water available, though. Also, familiarize yourself with the trail website, as it gives directions to various towns, but there is no signage/directions on the trail leading you to the towns. We stayed in Dyersville, and had no trouble riding our bikes to the trail from the hotel. There is a lot to see in Dyersville, so you might want to plan an extra day there. Biking to the Field of Dreams movie site was fun."

"This is a lovely trail, and largely undiscovered. This time, we went from Sageville, near Dubuque, westward for 19 miles before returning. The best scenery is between Durango and Twin Springs, with limestone cliffs on one side and the river on the other, in a 400-foot-deep valley. Several miles past Graf were also very scenic, as the trail climbed along a stream valley away from the river. The scenery was great to 18 miles and still good at 19 miles.

Except for a few short stretches, the trail is away from roads. We did see some people looking for a place to eat lunch, but without any success. Be sure and take your own food and plenty of water. Neither food nor water is available on the trail, at least for the first 19 miles.

The trip out from Sageville is a definite climb, with a few short exceptions, but the ride back is easy and fun. Watch out for some soft spots, though, particulary near one elevated road crossing.

Overall, the trail is in good condition. Around the 14 mile marker, someone in a pickup truck shot out onto the trail about 50 feet in front of our 9-year-old and went down the trail away from us, fast and illegally. We're reporting them to the county sherriff and hope that they'll get a stiff fine. Fortunately, no one was hurt, just scared to death. We need to keep our trails safe.

-Tom Baughman
Algonquin, IL"

My wife and I rode the trail from Sageville to Graf. The trail was in the top three of our choices for MN/WI and Iowa. The added bonus was Betsy the cow who was loose on trail and we got to practice herding her with bikes. It works well.

"I went cross country skiing on this trail from the trailhead north of Epworth to Graf. It's a very scenic and rugged area, but fairly level traveling, since you're following the little Maquoketa river.

Although I haven't been on the whole trail yet, I can tell from driving around the area that the eastern two-thirds of the trail seems to be a more tree-covered and scenic area."

"From the start near Dubuque to Epworth this trail is nearly constant Tree Tunnels. On the very warm day we rode the 30 mile round trip, the woods were comfortably cool. The bluffs and streams made for great scenery.

Do bring your own water. Restrooms were available each 5 miles or so. Trail surface was well packed and great for bicycles. Even with only 1% grade the down hill return to Dubuque was welcome. Park benches, picnic tables and even trash cans appeared regularly."

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