PERRY, Iowa — The Rails to Trails Conservancy has named the Raccoon River Valley Trail to the National Trails Hall of Fame. A ceremony was held on the trail on Thursday morning.
“You are one of 35, it’s an elite group of trails and recognized for many things,” said Ryan Chao, President of Rails to Trails Conservancy. “It’s scenic, the use of amenities, and historical significance, are some of the reasons it was selected.”
The Raccoon River Valley Trail was launched in 1989. It consists of 89 miles of trail and is billed as the oldest and longest paved trail in the United States. It links 14 communities.
“Welcome today to truly national validation that the Raccoon River Valley Trail is one of the best recreation trails in America,” said Chuck Offenburger, spokesperson for the RRVT Board. “These trails on these old rail right of ways are bringing more people to our towns in the railroads ever did.”
The Rails to Trails Conservancy brought a group of riders to Iowa to experience the RRVT and other central Iowa trails.
“I had no idea that Iowa was this beautiful,” said Will Hill, a rider from Virginia. “I thought it was flat and straight roads, but there are nice twisty rides through the trees, it’s just a wonderful experience.”
“Iowa’s just been spectacular,” said Joe DeMartino, of Connecticut. “The RTC put together the trip and it was just a spectacular trip, I’ve been to Iowa many times on business, this gave me a whole different perspective on the state.”
Now the focus is on uniting the Raccoon River Valley Trail, with the nearby High Trestle Trail. So far about half of the 9-mile connection has been paved and 80 percent of the $6 million needed for the project has been raised.
“So we’re working with the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation we’ve been working on acquiring different parcels former parcels of right away, and saw a couple of key sections have now come in to play,” said Mike Wallace, Director of the Dallas County Conservation Board.