Two years ago, when I wrote a cover story about the Raccoon River Valley Trail for Rails to Trails magazine, the trail was looking good. Now it’s even better, as promised two years ago. Where the trail intersects with gravel roads, the section you ride over is now paved – rather than gravel, which is a huge improvement. There is also new landscaping here and there – some with new amenities such as picnic tables — which is also greatly appreciated.
It was hot and humid on the trail yesterday, which may explain why we had the 12-mile stretch from Redfield to Panora almost to ourselves. Lovely autumn landscape (despite the summary weather) with wide expanses of yellowing corn and still-green soy beans and old barns and bright blue silos in the distance. In the tiny town of Linden (a midway point), we had a lovely picnic at a table under an overhang in a small park. No one around other than the occasional piece of farm machinery rumbling by. In Panora, we stopped trailside at the Kick Stop for some ice cream and met some fellow riders from….the Czech Republic (they’ve lived in Ames, home of Iowa State U., for years). Great day and welcome reminder of what I love about living in Iowa.