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Find your way around 1,800+ miles of Iowa trails with new app

The Iowa by Trail app will allow bikers, hikers, paddlers and anyone in between to navigate Iowa’s more than 1,800 miles of trails and find points of interest along the way. 

There’s lots of reasons to love living in Iowa, but by far one of the state’s lesser known treasures is its trail system. But with its forthcoming iOS app, the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation—a Des Moines-based nonprofit focused on preserving Iowa’s land, water and wildlife—is hoping to change that. 

“Since the beginning of INHF we’ve had a hand in trails,” said Hannah Inman, INHF’s director of communications. “There’s no statewide organization just for trails, so we’ve sort of become that over the years.”

A few years ago, when West Des Moines-based development firm Shift was first getting started, Inman says the team started tinkering with a trails app out of their love for cycling. Soon the City of West Des Moines expressed interest, which led to Inman eventually becoming involved with the project. 

“Iowa is really trying to become the World Capital of Trails,” Inman said. “By creating this app, we’re leveraging this great resource we already have in the trails and really making them accessible and user-friendly with a rich user experience to not just Iowans, but those outside of Iowa as well.”

Users will be able to use the app to geolocate themselves to find the nearest trail head and track their progress along the trail. The app also will include points of interest, restaurants and environmental markers along Iowa’s trails, which Inman believes will continue adding value to the app for years to come.

“We’ve been working hard to find those hidden gems, and I think that’s where this app is going to become really rich in user experience,” Inman (right) said. “People will be able to find things out about their surroundings they may have never known before.”

INHF is hosting a central Iowa launch party for the app May 1 from 4:30-8:30 p.m. at Des Moines’ Riverwalk Hub. For more information about the launch, visit the event’s Facebook page.

All of central’s Iowa 800 miles of trails will be launched May 1, including full points of interest for the High Trestle, Great Western, Raccoon River and Downtown Des Moines trails. The rest of the state’s trails will launch during RAGBRAI July 20-26, though Inman says it will likely take quite some time to fully build out points of interest across Iowa. 

The free app will currently only be available for iOS devices, but with an additional $60,000 in funding the app also will be available on Android, according to INHF’s website. Help make the Android version of the Iowa by Trail app a reality by donating online

The Iowa by Trail will be available for download in the Apple App Store.  


Credits: App images courtesy of INHF. Hannah Inman photo from INHF.com.

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