National Recreation Trails Database


Trail Description Continued

The Sauk Rail Trail set the standard by displaying the ability of rail trails to be much more than the proverbial "beaten path." This trail was the first multi-purpose route in Iowa to boast two State Parks as its end points and another conservation area right in the middle. The Sauk Rail Trail is truly helping Carroll and Sac Counties develop a strong greenbelt.

The 33-mile Sauk Rail Trail was completed in 1998. The charge was lead by county conservation boards. A 13 mile midsection of the trail from Maple River to Carnarvon follows a former railbed. The north end of the trail encircles Black Hawk State Park and the southern part of the trail winds through the community of Carroll around Swan Lake State Park.

The Sauk Rail Trail is asphalt from Swan Lake State Park (the southern-most point) to Maple River Junction. It becomes crushed limestone from Maple River Junction to Carnarvon and finishes as concrete from Carnarvon to Lake View - Black Hawk State Park (northern-most point). The trail surface and minimal grade allows for a variety of uses. Cycling, walking, running, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and in-line skating are a few examples of what families and other visitors may enjoy.

The Sauk Rail Trail meanders through Carroll and Sac Counties exposing users to an assortment of Midwest landscapes including rolling prairies, wetlands, farmland, and wooded areas. Hazelbrush Wildlife Area, the midpoint of the trail, offers a spectacular opportunity for wildlife observation and photography. This conservation area is approximately 80 acres and includes wetlands, timber, and meadows.

In addition to connecting three important recreation and conservation areas, the Sauk Rail Trail also connects several communities. Carnarvon, Breda, Maple River Junction, Lake View, and Carroll are all strung together by the trail. Together these towns offer many amenities and cultural and historical attractions. Check out for more information.


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This website provides access to the National Recreation Trail (NRT) database, a collection of information on the various trails which have been designated as NRT's. These trails are located throughout the United States and U.S. territories. The amount of information may vary from trail to trail. If you need more information than is available on this site, please use the contact(s) listed for that trail. (If no contacts, are listed, you may request help from American Trails at

The on-line database has details on the currently designated National Recreation Trails. The NRT Program online is hosted by American Trails: