I enjoyed this trail. I parked at the parking lot which is about 1 mile west, and 1 mile south, of Lorah, IA. (a couple miles north of Atlantic, IA. The parking lot there is just large enough for about 4 vehicles, and is just out of the way from anywhere that i felt safe to leave the vehicles there unattended all day. It is there for trail purposes, obviously, so we used it. At 8 AM we had the bikes out, and were pedaling down the trail.
It really is paved, completely. It was very easy peddling the entire way, which was nice because after biking the entire trail to Audubon, IA, we had to pedal another 20 back to the van, so we rode slightly over 40 miles total. By the way, if you plan to ride it like this, at our 7.4 mph avg moving speed, we made it back a few minutes before 5 PM, including all our stops for sightseeing and geocaching, and a 30 minute lunch break, so it was a fairly easy flat smooth ride to deal with.
The trail is a mix of scenes, with some having broad open spaces with farmlands on each side, other sections of the trail are lined only on one side with trees, and yet other sections have trees on both sides. It is a mixed trail, so not the same the entire way. There are several smaller bridges (well kept) along the way as well. Early on in the morning, the trail wound us over a couple roads, but traffic was easily navigated, and then it took us underneath interstate 80, which was also easily navigable.
There is a little area that has Llamas, Guinea hens (I think that's what they are). At some of the towns there are stores to grab a water or snack, or even parks with playgrounds.
There was a spot about 100 foot long, that had tree branches fallen onto the trail, but they had it well marked, and even a bypass all set for trail trekkers. (the bypass is smaller gravel)
There is a neat little gazebo at Exira, and a couple dead-end bridges to check out along the way.
When we got to Audubon, IA, There is a trail head marker that tell a bit about itself. Beyond that a very short way is the park where you will find Albert, and places to eat and rest and play. I'm quite sure that will be much busier later in the year... it is a nice place.
I would like to return here and re-ride this trail when all things turn green. We saw a couple deer, sadly they were not alive, but at least it showed that deer are in the area, and might be seen by other next time, a crane, and pheasant.
They have done well to this trail, and you can see where they are planting even more trees in places, so it is only going to be nicer in years to come.
As I said, some of the trail has little, or no wind break, so be prepared for winds on windy days.
Overall, it was a bit windy out there, but not intolerable, but the nice country/nostalgic views of dreams lived by farm homes with flagpoles, small towns with trailside parks, trees, mixed with the all-paved trail, made it a peaceful fun easy ride.
Thanks to the Rail Trail people, clubs, and businesses that do the upkeep to these trails. :)