Homer's Travels: Snowshoeing Iowa: Wabash Trace South Of Council Bluffs

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Snowshoeing Iowa: Wabash Trace South Of Council Bluffs

The Wabash Trace Nature Trail, in the north, starts in Council Bluffs, a short 25 minutes from my home. The first segment from Council Bluffs to Mineola is paved and has a parallel horse trail. At least I think it's paved - it's hard to tell with everything under inches of snow. On Christmas eve and Christmas Day we received 14 inches of blowing snow. I figured this would mean I would have another chance to use my snowshoes before the year ran out and I was right.
The trace starts in Iowa West Foundation Trailhead Park not far from the Iowa School for the Deaf (They have some impressive buildings that I'll have to come back and photograph sometime). I was concerned that the parking lot would be unusable because of all the snow but a good Samaritan must have come in a cleared most of the parking lot.

The snow conditions on this part of the trace were quite different from
those near Coin. Near Coin the snow was pristine, fluffy, and soft. My snowshoes sank in some two to three inches. On the trace near Council Bluffs there was widespread evidence of snowmobile (despite the no motorized vehicles signs) and cross-country ski tracks. This activity packed the snow down so that my snowshoes only sank an inch or so. It's a lot easier to walk on packed snow and I managed to double my speed to about 2 mph.

The part of the trace I walked on today was not that exciting. The trail parallels busy roads and farmland that detracts from nature. There are a
lot of trees that provide some shelter and separation but this section is accompanied by a lot of street noise. I was hoping that I would be shoeing in snow but the light snow I drove in to get to the trailhead stopped when I started down the trace and restarted again when I got back to the car - bad timing I guess. I took a few pictures which I've added to my 2009-2013 Wabash Trace Nature Trail Hike Google Photos album.

My turn around point was a bridge and bench about 2.2 miles from the trailhead. I took time to sit on the bench to eat a snack bar. I figured that sitting while eating would reduce the chance of face planting like I did last time. I was right.

The packed snow allowed my to extend my snowshoe out to 4.49 miles with a small elevation change of 140 feet. Despite the easier going, and me dressing more appropriately for the weather, I still had a trickle of sweat running down my back when I got to the turn around point and slightly wobbly legs when I got back to the car.

There is more snow in the forecast so I expect more snowshoeing in the new year.

On a side note,
my back, that was bothering me since Saturday, is getting a lot better and, wearing a back brace just in case, snowshoeing didn't aggravate it.


  1. I can't tell you how happy I am that you didn't manage to face-plant from a sitting position on a bench!