Wapsi-Great Western Line Trail


Wapsi-Great Western Line Trail Facts

States: Iowa
Counties: Howard, Mitchell
Length: 18.5 miles
Trail end points: E. Main St. and Cherry St. (Riceville) and State Line Rd. just east of 710th St. (Minnesota State Line)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt, Crushed Stone
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6015569
Trail activites: Bike, Fishing, Wheelchair Accessible, Snowmobiling, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

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Wapsi-Great Western Line Trail Description

The 18.5 mile long Wapsi-Great Western Line Trail follows the abandoned Chicago Great Western Railway grade between Riceville and the Iowa/Minnesota State Line. The corridor was originally built by the Minnesota & Northwestern Railroad in 1886. The paved trail traverses wide rolling landscape, agricultural land, upland timber, wetland and pasture while following the Wapsipinicon River for much of its meandering route. Less than one mile of the WGWL is on rural county roads.

Wildlife abounds on the trail. Otters, turkeys, pheasants, white-tail deer and a host of other native species are common sights. As if the scenic landscape isn't enough, the Wapsi-Great Western Line Trail also crosses three waterways—the Wapsipinicon River, Watsons Creek and Lake Hendricks—ensuring an even more tranquil experience. The northern section of the trail also comes close to a large-scale wind farm.

Parking and Trail Access

There is a Welcome Center for the Wapsi-Great Western Line Trail with parking at the Riceville trailhead off of East Main Street. Alternatively, park at Lake Hendricks Park to the north of downtown Riceville.

Wapsi-Great Western Line Trail Reviews

Trail was more interesting than I was expecting. Seems like it's location probably keeps it a bit of a secret. I would definitely ride it again. Some more details below:
It had changing scenery including rural (fields doing well in July, Amish family farming, horses with foals), wooded areas (some tunnel-like with trees), deer crossed the path, many birds and other wildlife, long boardwalk/deck trail through wetland, all with mostly level grade with some curves and short hills for some variety. Several miles were actually concrete instead of asphalt (I've never encountered that on a public trail before).
Had the trail mostly to ourselves on a holiday. It is in great condition except for just a few minor spots that were marked.
Only "neutral" comments are that we started in Riceville at the trailhead, but the parking lot only contained 1 non-HC spot. However the street was bare so we simply parked on it. Don't know if it ever gets so busy where that would be a problem.
Signage is better than many trails, but couple times needed to look around a bit more to find which direction the trail continued (when crossing some gravel roads), had to shortly go onto some rural (low travel) roads for a bit, and then there is the one short section that requires riding on a country gravel road to "portage" to the trail. This gap was somewhere around 11 miles north of Riceville, so you could skip that and get a nice 22 mile round trip in witout it.

Love this trail. Thank you to all who maintain this. Can't wait to get back to ride it again.

Great ride today. Beautiful trail!


Since many of these comments were posted, the trail has improved dramatically- namely it is completely paved and in EXCELLENT condition. I have driven through this area many times and looked at the trailhead but never took the occasion until recently to utilize it. I have been missing out! The scenery packed into the 18.5 miles is intense and it is not at all crowded. In the future it would be great to pave an additional 7-8 miles and join this with the Shooting Star Trail between Adams and LeRoy MN. Thanks to the local folks that helped make this beautiful trail a reality, and here's hoping that generations ahead will enjoy it as much as I did.

We rode our cross bikes and started out at the Welcome Center. We rode thru McIntire as far as we could go on the trail which was mostly all asphalt or cement. The last 2 miles was grassy. The grade was nice, because if you were peddling up hill you couldn't tell and nice tree/foliage cover on a hot day almost the whole way. On the way back we stopped and had lunch at the Pit Stop which was typical bar food, but a nice break.

I rode the trail today on my cyclocross bike and had a blast! This trail offers a bit of everything. There's open fields of corn and soybeans, dense woods, a marsh, lakes, creeks, rivers, old bridges, quaint Amish farms, and even giant wind turbines! If you start at Riceville, you can ride all the way to McIntire and on through Pinicon Alders Park on a road bike as everything is paved. There's a nice bar & grill where you can grab lunch in McIntire, but not much more. The Pinicon Alders Park portion is newly paved BEAUTIFUL--as nice a trail as you can find anywhere ...Seriously. The last 4-mile section, though, you really need something with wider tires as this is crushed gravel and a bit rough in a few spots. A cyclocross or mountain bike would be your best bet. Whatever you do, don't forget your camera!

This trail actually goes way past Lake Hendricks up to the Minnesota state line

"This trail is very enjoyable with a very beautiful ride through lush farm fields, woodlands, wetlands and communities that welcome the visitors with warmth and hospitality.
Riceville is the main town that you can get your supplies and information on the trail. You can camp out at Lake Hendricks which is next to the Wapsi Trail.
Bring your camera for wonderful scenes and the great old steel bridges that are used on the trail to cross the creeks. An appetite for some is answered by the wonderful places to eat in Riceville.
This is one place to visit that is very family friendly with lots of options. "

The Wapsi Great Western is one of my favorite trails to ride! The landscape changes thoughout the ride -- there's never a dull moment.

The crushed limestone surface makes the trail even more enjoyable by providing a smooth ride and is a nice change from the blacktop urban bike trails/wide sidewalks.

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