Sauk Rail Trail


Sauk Rail Trail Facts

States: Iowa
Counties: Carroll, Sac
Length: 33.2 miles
Trail end points: Swan Lake State Park (Carroll) and 3rd Street (Lake View)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt, Concrete
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6015664
Trail activites: Bike, Inline Skating, Wheelchair Accessible, Snowmobiling, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

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Sauk Rail Trail Description

The Sauk Rail-Trail runs for 33 paved miles between Swan Lake State Park in Carroll and Black Hawk State Park in Lake View. The trail links the communities of Swan Lake, Maple River, Breda, Carnarvon and Lake View with scenic state parks and serene farmland.

Along the trail you'll pass through prairies and wetlands, preserved at such places as Black Hawk Marsh, Breda's Railroad Depot, Hazelbrush Wildlife Area, Mid-Prairie Park and Rolling Hills City Park in Carroll. And each end is crowned by Black Hawk Lake and Swan Lake state parks.

Around Swan Lake you'll encounter hills but more level grades are between Maple River and Carnarvon. Distances between towns are as follows: Lake View and Carnarvon: 6.2 miles; Carnarvon and Breda: 6.5 miles; Breda and Maple River: 8 miles; Maple River and Carroll: 4.5 miles; Carroll and Swan Lake: 4 miles. The trail around Swan Lake is 3.8 miles.

A user fee is required for those 18 and older ($2 per day or $15 per year).

Parking and Trail Access

To reach the northern trailhead in Lake View: From US 71 northbound, take a left on 350th Street (IA 175). Travel 5 miles west and turn left at Madison Street. Travel south 0.4 miles to 3rd Street. Take another left and you’ll see the trail entrance with its distinctive arch on your right side in 0.2 miles. Parking is available at this trailhead.

At the southern end of the trail, parking is available in Swan Lake State Park (22676 Swan Lake Drive). From US 71 northbound, turn right onto 220th Street. Drive 1.4 miles east to reach the park.

Sauk Rail Trail Reviews

I'm from Kansas City and rode this trail on Labor Day weekend. It was a peaceful, quiet ride thru corn fields and the beautiful country sides of rural Iowa. The trail is in great shape and is very smooth until you have to cross several gravel roads. Like others have said, bring extra hydration and snacks as there's not much along the way to stop.

We rode the trail for the first time right after Labor Day. We average 10 mph so it took us slightly over 4 hrs round trip. Scenery, along with all the little wooden bridges was neat! Concrete is much easier to ride than the asphalt on the Caroll end. An unusual experience we encountered was a train completely stopped for 45 min across the gravel intersection. All we could do was stand and wait ( along with other bikers on the opposite side). And further along the trail we came upon some cattle that were not on the right side of the fence!! Fortunately they were more curious than vicious. Our last few miles back to Lake View we rode in an unforecast light rain. Overall, it was a good ride and we will be back.

My husband and I rode the Sauk Rail Trail July 3, 2015 from Carroll to Lake View and back. Started about 8 am and ended in the afternoon. The trailhead at Carroll would rate about 1 was one of the worst I've seen. Hard to find and nothing special. The other end at Lake View was great.....they made it very nice! The bike arch is cool. We met "Doc" taking care of the trail. Alot of nice people on the trail. Nice nature trail and lots of things to look at ...birds, critters, plants, windmills.


We rode this trail with my 9 year old son from Lake View to Swan Lake, south of Carroll, about 25 miles.

We spent the night at the beautiful campground at Swan Lake ($10 fee for tent camping), and rode back the next morning.

Perfect distance for a young rider and we loved all the windmills.

Plenty of rest stops available and the trail is in perfect condition. Concrete for most of the way with a few miles asfault near Carroll.

Daily fee of $2 per adult is well worth it.

This trail is all hard surfaced. The trail will bring you close to gigantic wind mills, and through fields of prairie grass, corn, and soybean fields, as well as areas through trees. Bring suntan lotion for the open areas. The greatest distance to any town with services is 8 miles. The shelters halfway between Carroll and Maple River and Maple River and Breda make nice rest areas as well. Camping or hotels are available at both ends of the trail at Carroll or Lake View. Awesome!

The trail is great condition and very scenic. Love going through the wind farm. You must pack snacks and drinks, no where to stop along trail.

I've only ridden this trail from Carroll to Breda but the scenery is amazing! You need to bring a $1 bill along which you deposit in one of the boxes as a charge for using the trail. The trail is paved, the only downside for me was that there are no underpasses when you come to intersections and a lot of the roads that meet with the trail are gravel roads.... VERY hard to make across on a road bike with skinny little tires. It does slow you down to cross these. Other than that a great trail. Pack snacks, not much between the towns.

This trail is now paved the whole length. This is a great and easy trail to ride. Some great stops along the trail include Trappers Den in Lake View, Carnarvon Inn in Carnarvon, Reds place in Breda and Little Gus's in Maple River. And of course Carroll has many great places to stop.

My husband and I rode the trail from Lake View to Breda and back Sept. 8, 2011. We spent the night in Carroll and rode from Carroll up to Breda and back on Sept. 9, 2011. The weather, scenery, and trail were awesome! This is the best trail we've been on so far. It was concrete and very flat, a nice easy ride for us sr. citizens! We would highly recomend this trail. Be sure to pack beverages and snacks.

This is a very nice ride for all ages. The concrete trail is wonderful. Make sure you bring along drink/snack as this is not readily available. Sunscreen is a must if going during middle of day as there is not a lot of coverage.

Rode the entire trail this weekend. It is pretty flat except around Swan Lake in Carol. No access to food on the trail though there are bars in the small towns along the trail. We stopped in Breda for a bite and could only find a convenience store that served fried foods. Don't get the homemade tenderloin it tastes like shoe leather. So in other words pack your own food. Nothing in Carroll is close to the trail. The Lake View side, Black Hawk Lake food is available in town. We stayed at Black Hawk Lake in the campground very nice campground. Pull thru sites are a bit close, but we were there to ride so didn't mind. It is a very scenic trail. It takes your through a wind farm, which I thought was pretty cool. The Black Hawk side is newer and nicer, concrete trail. The Swan Lake side is Asphalt and older.

A little work remains on the shoulders but the trail is now all pavement. A Great trail to ride!

"True, it's not too challenging except for finding the southern trail head. There was one area in a valley that looked like a hill scene from Europe. Very beautiful. "

"Very flat, and not very challenging riding, except that you have to keep working. Coasting is simply not an option.

Very pretty one you reach the Hazelbrush area south of Breda. Worth a water break here to spot wildlife and just relax."

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