Rock Island Old Stone Arch Nature Trail


5 Reviews

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Rock Island Old Stone Arch Nature Trail Facts

States: Iowa
Counties: Pottawattamie, Shelby
Length: 3.75 miles
Trail end points: 385th St. between I-80 westbound on-ramp and County Road L34/York Road to east of Hackberry Road at Silver Creek (Shelby)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt, Crushed Stone
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6015661

Rock Island Old Stone Arch Nature Trail Description

The Rock Island Old Stone Arch Nature Trail travels nearly 4 miles along an asphalt path atop a former railbed once owned by the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad. Starting near an I-80 on-ramp, the trail rolls through the town of Shelby before ending at a bridge across Silver Creek.

The old stone arch bridge that gives the trail its name dates from 1883. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the 35-foot stone structure is said to be the first railroad structure built in Shelby County.

Beginning at Exit 34 on I-80, the trail provides a great opportunity to get off the highway and stretch your legs. It is ideal for families, runners, and cyclists looking for a short, easy, and beautiful ride.

Facing a restaurant on the northwest corner of the interchange, you’ll head left (west) toward a small landscaped park with benches marking the trail entrance. Gravel for the first hundred yards may not be suitable for wheelchair users. The rest of the trail is paved, passing through a green corridor of farmed fields and restored wetlands.

You’ll follow the trail west for 0.4 mile before heading north 1 mile to Shelby, where the rail line arrived in 1868 on its way to Council Bluffs. A restored train depot with restrooms greets visitors arriving by trail, and an old Burlington Northern caboose stands nearby. You can find restaurants in town, and parking is available.

In the summer, keep your eyes peeled for purple martins, the largest North American swallow. They congregate in birdhouses built along the trail, making this a great place for casual bird-watchers. Residents mounted some 50 birdhouses in the community, earning Shelby a designation as the Purple Martin Capital of Iowa for its natural mosquito eradication program.

You’ll find the stone arch bridge 1.1 miles past the train depot. The trail ends at Silver Creek in another 1.1 miles at another old railroad bridge.

Parking and Trail Access

To reach the southern trailhead from I-80, take Exit 34 onto 385th St. toward Shelby. Take the first left into a restaurant and gas station, and find parking on the left. The trail begins just past the small landscaped park.

To reach trailhead parking in Shelby from I-80, take Exit 34 onto 385th St. toward Shelby. Go 1.1 miles, and turn right onto Station St. Parking is straight ahead at the restored depot.

To reach the northern trailhead from I-80, take Exit 34 onto 385th St. toward Shelby. Go 1.2 miles, and turn right onto Spring St. Go 1.1 miles as Spring St. becomes County Road F66, and turn left onto Hackberry Road. Go 0.2 mile, and find parking on the left. The endpoint is located 0.9 mile northeast along the trail (on the eastern side of Silver Creek).

Rock Island Old Stone Arch Nature Trail Reviews

Well kept and enjoyable

We wanted a new walking experience, and Rock Island Old Stone Arch Nature Trail provided exactly the right amount of walking (did 4 miles out and 4 back) in interesting natural spaces. Great for a vigorous walk or a short bike ride. We're glad we chose the trail for our morning out!

Trail skate

Parked at the corn crib. Next time will pick up trail in town because of gravel by the marsh.Otherwise wonderful trail to rollerskate on.

Perfect stop for lunch and walk

This was a perfect stop on 80 for lunch and a walk with out puppy. We could even let him off lease.

Scenic and Relaxing

Nice 8 mile out & back round trip. We parked at the Trail head by the Corncrib restaurant. Takes you through wetlands and farm fields. Great for walking, running or riding.


Short but Enjoyable

We rode this one on 16 Sep 2013. Started at the trail head near exit off of I-80. Parked at Corn Crib convenience story. There are short sections of gravel near the wetland and crossing some gravel roads. Otherwise trail is nicely paved. Travels through some wooded sections and open farmland. The trail crosses over the stone arch bridge and then ends at another steel bridge entering the Pingel Timber. We noted a lot of benches but missed the maps and brochures. As the title of this review states. This is a short ride but did enjoy a break from travel on I-80 and the scenery was enjoyable. The small town of Shelby was fun to cruise through. Recommended stop when traveling I-80 through Iowa.

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