It’s always been nearby but I’ve somehow avoided walking and collecting tracks for the Wabash Trace in western Iowa. It’s a well-known and high-traffic trail and easy to access but I’ve never started my process of segment walking the entire thing. According to various websites it’s about 63 miles long so almost 3X the MoPac I’ve been doing. But never to late to start. This one has some potential for a three day walk, even with some accommodations along the trail (thus requiring less support), but it’s still not possible (at least walking, bike might be possible) to do the entire thing end-to-end in a single multiday walk. But now that I’ve finally gotten started on it I guess I now have to finish it. Here’s a map to show the context:
This trail is east of Omaha, across the Missouri River in Iowa. Its northern start is just off US275, near the Iowa School for the Deaf, as shown with the grey line (a partial GPS tracklog I found on the web). The waypoint, MVP (no not Most Valuable Player, but Meadowview Parkway), is where the trail intersects Meadowview Pkwy (a ritzy exburb of Council Bluffs, Iowa) just off Pioneer Trail road:
Unlike the MoPac, which is located in farmland where there are east-west and north-south section line road every mile and so lots of intersections with the trail, the Wabash is located in more hilly country (Iowa’s Loess Hills) so streets are irregular and thus parking spots for section hiking are a bit more difficult to find.
On the first map the magenta segment, overlaid on the grey trace, is the small portion I did yesterday, 4.1 miles out-and-back. As my SO was along this meant: a) slower walking pace, esp. after large lunch (reubens and OskarBlues Old Chub Scotch Ale), and, b) a much shorter distance (I probably would have done, alone, about 8 miles). The first part of the trail is flat and boring so that’s why I choose (via satellite map reconnaissance) to start at MeadowView Pkwy, which is a good starting point.
Now that I’ve started this I’m glad I did (I’ve known about this trail for over 10 years but never explored it). It’s hilly and more rural, esp. starting through the Loess Hills than the MoPac. As it goes further to the southeast it will get out of the hills and into traditional farm country. The Wabash is a bit more developed than the MoPac (more rest benches and picnic areas, even a Turd Totter) but no signs of water. At this time of year it’s very dead in appearance but in a month or so as it greens up it will be nice (some nice views). OTOH I have done a small section of this trail (once geodashing) in mid-summer and the heat and humidity are oppressive, so I guess I need to get busy and pack in the miles ASAP, esp. during the spring. Later I can consider a fall multiday through hike on it with at least some support.
Now that I’ve started this one, with one exception, this will now complete all the trails within a couple hours drive. It’s unfortunate: a) there are so few trails, and, b) I have to create so much CO2 to reach them for an otherwise healthy (and green) activity. So I’ll be grinding out the GPS tracks.
Here in the full segment I did you can see my tracklog deviates a bit from the biking tracklog I found on the Net, esp. in this blowup:
Getting 300% GPS coverage in order to smooth my tracklogs will require around 200 miles which is almost 3X as much as I’ve done on MoPac so I’d better get moving. The only tracklog I could find (the grey one, clearly smoothed) only covers the first 22 miles. Furthermore my normal map doesn’t show the trail very well and the other maps online are not very high resolution so getting a better GPS track might be useful (again, not exactly hard to find or navigate this trail but getting more information may be useful to others especially finding ad hoc trailheads). Google does note the trail and it is possible to trace its entire length (haven’t done that, but looks doable). It’s difficult to see the trail on satphotos as most of its length is under heavy woods and thus not highly visible. So a good track might be handy even though this information is already known.
On this point I’m a little surprised at the paucity of good GPS tracks for various trails. I guess people don’t care, crude maps being sufficient. On manufacturing trails like this getting lost is not an issue (unlike some trails I’m looking at in the UK) but it’s still nice, for a data freak like me, to have complete information. Finding where the trail intersects roads in rural Iowa, just in order to get to the trail, can be a thrill.
So hopefully I’ll be getting longer maps. Unfortunately my only mapping tool (for GPS tracks) is Garmin’s awful BaseCamp software (hard to use, not very good features) which won’t even upload tracks from my eTrek, so I still have to use my old laptop that has working software for the uploads. Hopefully it won’t die before I complete this.