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Central Iowa's Pioneer Trail—which gets its name from the early settlers of Grundy County—is built on a former rail line that once connected the towns of Holland and Reinbeck and the communities in between. The crushed-stone trail parallels Black Hawk Creek for most of its route, offering views of natural conservation areas and picturesque farmland.
The trail, mostly tree-lined and shaded, consists of three sections separated by two gaps (around a mile each) on shared roadways. Horseback riding on the trail is allowed on the mowed grass parallel to the crushed-stone pathway.
From the northernmost endpoint in Holland, the trail begins at South Main Street, where there is a small parking area, and continues through a tree-lined area bordered by farmland. After the first 2.4 miles, the trail shares the roadway with A Avenue for about a half mile. The trail continues off-road on the east side of Fourth Street for another 0.8 mile and then reaches its first gap at 235th Street. You can continue on a shared roadway by turning right onto 235th Street and then left onto Diagonal Road.
The trail picks up again about a mile down the road at the entrance to the Wolfe Family Preserve (in the preserve’s eastern end), where there is a small parking area.
The trail then enters a forested landscape before traveling back out into relatively open farmland as it parallels Diagonal Road. This section has three stops with picnic areas and restroom access: the C.E. Shearn Memorial Park (south side of Diagonal Road, approximately 1.8 miles in), the Grundy County Museum (south side of Diagonal Road at Second Street and Sycamore Street, approximately 4 miles in), and Gutknecht Roadside Park at U Avenue (approximately 5.5 miles in).
To reach the final section to Reinbeck, turn right onto U Avenue, and turn left onto Diagonal Road. The trail picks up just over a mile down the road on the east side of V Avenue and ends a quarter mile later at the Reinbeck Shooting Range, where limited parking is available.
To reach the northwestern trailhead in Holland from Des Moines, take I-235 eastbound to Exit 137A to I-80 toward Davenport. In 4 miles, take Exit 142 to US 6/US 65 toward Altoona. Turn left onto NE Hubbell Ave., and continue for approximately 36 miles. Turn left onto Marsh Ave. to continue on SR 330 northbound for 13 miles. Turn left onto State Route 14 northbound just after passing the Marshalltown Municipal Airport on your right. In about 16 miles, turn right to continue on SR 14/SR 175. In just over 6 miles, you’ll reach the outskirts of Grundy Center. Turn left onto M Ave.; the Rose Hill Cemetery will be on your left. In 2.5 miles, turn left onto 210th St. Continue for just under 0.75 mile. Take a sharp left onto Market St. and then immediately turn right onto S. Main St. Turn left into the trailhead parking lot.
To reach the eastern trailhead in Reinbeck from Des Moines, take I-235 eastbound to Exit 137A to I-80 toward Davenport. In 4 miles, take Exit 142 to US 6/US 65 toward Altoona. Turn left onto NE Hubbell Ave., and continue for approximately 36 miles. Turn left onto Marsh Ave. to continue on IA 330 northbound for 13 miles. Turn left onto SR 14 northbound just after passing the Marshalltown Municipal Airport on your right. In 4 miles, turn right onto IA 96 eastbound, and go 14 miles. Turn left onto H Ave., and go 8.5 miles. Turn right onto SR 175 (Diagonal Road); after about 1.5 miles, turn left onto N. Commercial St. The roadway to the Reinbeck Shooting Range will be on your left across from a cluster of grain silos. The roadway leads to a small parking area at the end of the road.
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