• Posted Nov 1, 2012

After nearly 16 months of being closed from flood damage, the scenic Chichaqua Valley Trail is back open and ready for riders!


The Chichaqua Valley Trail is a trail that has a special attraction for many of our trail users. Not having that resource for several years has been a loss for the communities and individuals who have enjoyed the trail for many years.

In August 2011 floods washed out 12 different sections along the 20 mile trail. Some washouts were longer than a football field.

The repaired sections are approximately 5 miles in length and cost nearly 1 million to repair. The project has been a long drawn out process due to the difficulty of dealing with a federal disaster agency (FEMA), working in two counties, and the discovery of additional structural damage during the reconstruction.

Metal plates we added to make acceptable transitions between the repaired trail and bridges. There still may be some shouldering, cleaning and mowing to be done, but if you are a cyclist, go out and ride the trail!

As Loren Lown of Polk County Conservation said - “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone?” or maybe that was a quote from a Joni Mitchel song ;) . Well, the repairs are finally complete.


The two photos at the bottom show the wash out area. You can see how the trail base was washed out. That section of railroad bed had been there since the 1880’s. The second second photo shows the repair of the same general area after paving.


This scenic Chichaqua Valley Trail runs for 20 miles between just east of Bondurant and the town of Baxter, passing through the small communities of Ira, Mingo and Valeria along the way. The name is derived from a Native American word that early settlers mistook to mean "skunk" but actually referred to the smell of wild onions that grew along the Skunk River, which the trail crosses.

The trail is a gem among Iowa's cultivated fields, and throughout the route you'll be treated to wildflowers and wildlife in this wooded greenbelt corridor.

Find out more about the Chichaqua Valley Trail on Polk County Conservation's website.


The trail is paved for its entire route, and it occupies an abandoned rail right-of-way that once was used by the Wisconsin, Iowa & Nebraska Railroad, built in 1885. Later other railroads came along: Chicago, St. Paul, & Kansas City Railroad (1886-1892), Chicago Great Western Company (1892-1968) and the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Company (1968-1984). You'll see evidence of the train route in mile markers that show the distance to Kansas City. Stone and wood railroad bridges have also been refurbished for the trail.

The line was abandoned in 1984, and reopened as a recreational trail in 1987. It includes a scenic crossing of the Skunk River.


Big plans await this trail! The Chichaqua Valley Trail extension was purchased earlier this year with the help of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF).

The property which extends from Bondurant to NE 29th Street is 5.5 miles of abandoned Union Pacific railroad. The scenic corridor, now called the "Chichaqua Valley Trail Connector", would serve as the link from Ankeny and Des Moines to Bondurant and Jasper County.


A BIG Thanks to Polk County Conservation, Jasper & Polk Counties and all the other involved! This was a HUGE undertaking to bring back one of Central Iowa's most scenic trails.

There is no wonder why Iowa is becoming the "Trails Capital of the World".

Chichaqua Valley Trail Map

  • Author: ss
  • Posted By: ss
  • Modified: Nov 1, 2012 by ss

I was just on the trail Saturday June 8th and it is closed between Mingo and Ira and a little bit beyond Ira. They are getting ready to resurface. If you are on a cross or Mountain Bike you are fine but i wouldnt recommend a road bike. The trail is dirt/concrete and rocks right now. It is going to be very nice when finished.

#4 - julesg62 posted Jun 10, 2013

Just rode on the Chichaqua Valley trail last Saturday!
(First time in 2 years!). It was a breath of fresh air (literally!)
and the repairs appeared very well done! I'm glad the trails back!

I agree with Che. The trails surface between Ira and Mingo definately could use some TLC! Mother nature hasn't been very kind to the aged trails asphalt surface. There are some large cracks,dips and other assorted "tire-grabbers" most of which have been identified with orange flags and painted signs on the surface. I'd advise additional caution when riding or walking on that section of the trail, so keep your speed down a bit (especially in low-light).

Hopefully, more trail repairs and improvements will be coming soon.

True, it's not as 'new" as the High Trestle Tril" but the scenery is beautiful and I intend on riding CVT a lot now it's back!

Good job on all the repairs!


#3 - fasteddie posted Nov 5, 2012

agreed, one of my favorite trails, sure hope they can get it connected to Gay Lea and Ankeny/Bondurant trails after I move to Iowa

#2 - daninboulder posted Nov 5, 2012

The flood damage occured in 2010. Several of us road this trail and viewed the damage in June of 2011 2 months prior to the date the article gave, August 2011.

Secondly, the section from Mingo to Ira and perhaps a mile or so east of Ira really needs to be repaved. Severe cracks have been growing throughout the years and there are drop offs in the middle of the trail up to several inches deep. Bicycles with up to 700x30 tires could get caught in the cracks. Caution to anyone who rides this hidden gem of a trail.

Although not as glamorous as the High Trestle Trail the Chichaqua is a beautiful trail with amazing vistas and welcoming stops. I have really missed riding on this trail since the flood. We rode the entire trail yesterday perhaps our first entire visit since 2009.

#1 - che posted Nov 4, 2012

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