89 total miles*


Concrete or asphalt


1% to 2%


$2.00/person per day**

*Length: 89 total miles, with a 72-mile interior loop. **Annual Fees: Jan-Dec $10.00 Free: Age 17 and under


Following are brief descriptions of the communities on the Raccoon River Valley Trail. We are updating our lists of businesses, services and attractions in each of the trail communities, so please let us know about changes and improvements.

Population: 4,626 Services for trail users: Trailhead parking, all services available, including the new Trailside Campground in town. Nearest public restroom: Jefferson Depot at the trailhead. Don’t miss: An elevator ride up to the viewing deck of the Mahanay Memorial Tower, which has a playing carillon. $2 adults, $1 children 12 and under. And glazed donuts at Bunkers Dunkers Bakery on the square. Greene County slogan: “The Land of Plenty,” see mosaic in ground floor of courthouse rotunda. Most famous son/daughter: American pollster George Gallup, 1972 Olympic gold medalist in archery Doreen Wilber, political columnist and commentator David Yepsen
Population: 30 Services for trail users: Trailhead parking, shelterhouse, restroom, picnic tables. Nearest public restroom: Cooper Way Station, trailside. Don’t miss: Monument outside old gymnasium heralds Johnny Carson as Cooper’s “Honorary 51st Citizen,” decided at time of 1981 centennial celebration. The story is told in the historical sign located at the trailhead. Town slogan: “Everything’s Super in Cooper.” Most famous son/daughter: Terry Rich, former cable TV exec and director of Des Moines Blank Park Zoo, now CEO of the Iowa Lottery.
Population: 25 Services for trail users: None so far. Nearest public restroom: Cooper (5 miles north), Yale (5 miles south). Don’t miss: Standing at the intersection where the current Raccoon River Valley Trail will be crossed by the east-west American Discovery Trail in years to come. That intersection is also where the new “North Loop” of the RRVT comes in from the east. Town slogan: “New life for the ol’ junction!” Most famous son/daughter: Jerry Kinney, legendary Iowa school band director.
Population: 287. Services for trail users: Trailhead parking, restroom, bank, restaurant, bar. Nearest public restroom: Trailhead south end of town. Don’t miss: Just Ethel’s restaurant and bar, open every day but Sunday. Also, two blocks west of Ethel’s, you can see the old round gym where the Yale High School teams once played; if you find any of the volunteers there working on the restoration, you’re in for a treat. And check out the pedestal at the base of the flag pole in the middle of the main street in the business district; terrific mini-murals have been painted on it. Town slogan: “Not the biggest, but the best.” Most famous son/daughter: Frank Moore, Class of 1942 at old Yale High School, went on to Yale University, where he wound up teaching. He is the only known person to go Yale to Yale!
Population: 1,175 Services for trail users: Trailhead parking, all services. Nearest public restroom: Businesses, if you buy something. Don’t miss: Guthrie County Historical Village, ice cream trailside at P.J.’s Drive-In, cool business district reachable by spur trail. Town slogan: “Come for the fun! Stay for the future.” Most famous son/daughter: Kip Janvrin, Olympic decathlete, Drake Relays champion.
Population: 226 Services for trail users: New shelterhouse trailside, drinking fountain. Nearest public restroom: Portable toilet is trailside. Don’t miss: The town was named after its many linden trees. Town slogan: We haven’t found one yet, so can we suggest one? “It’s Linden, not London!” Most famous son/daughter: Travis Geopfert, assistant coach of track & field at the University of Arkansas, former head track coach at the University of Northern Iowa, and an All-American track man during his own student years at UNI.
Population: 833 Services for trail users: All, including kayak and canoe service for river floats. Nearest public restroom: Redfield Depot, City Park on the trail, businesses Don’t miss: Note the roller dam on the Middle Raccoon River, also follow signs to “Hanging Rock Park,” uptown business district has undergone a nice renovation. Be sure to see the restored GAR Hall — that was a lodge for veterans who fought in the Grand Army of the Republic in the Civil War — a half-block east of the main intersection uptown. GAR Hall is only open by appointment. Town slogan: “The People Make The Difference” Most famous son/daughter: Another decathlete, Rex Harvey.
Population: 4,386 Services for trail users: Trailhead parking, all services. Nearest public restroom: Businesses. Don’t miss: The fabulous Dallas County Courthouse, brick streets on the square, brickyards trailside. And, in August, the Adel Sweet Corn Festival. Town slogan: “Growing With Pride.” Most famous son/daughter: Nile Kinnick, 1939 Heisman Trophy winner in football for the University of Iowa. Van Harden, co-host of the morning show on Des Moines radio station WHO, still lives here in his hometown.
Population: 20,649 Between 2016 and 2017, the City of Waukee’s population increased by nine percent. This is the highest percentage of growth by any Des Moines metro area city within that 12-month span. Services for trail users: Trailhead parking, all services. Nearest public restroom: Restroom facilities at trailhead, northwest corner of town. Don’t miss: Variety of restaurants in strip malls along the trail, the connecting point where the new “North Loop” of the RRVT exits northwest for Dallas Center Town slogan: “Waukee – The Key to Good Living,” but we also like their special slogan for RAGBRAI’s overnight stop in 2006: “Wau-ke-ke: Ride the Wave!” Most famous son/daughter: Hal Manders, major league baseball pitcher in the 1940s for the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs, with his baseball career interrupted by World War II service. There is a Hal Manders exhibit at the community’s public library.

Population: 8,009

Services for trail users: Trailhead parking, restrooms, water, food and Raccoon River Valley Bicycle Company, shop is just east of the Hotel Pattee on Willis Avenue.

Nearest public restroom: Center of town, west across the street from GEP’S Caboose Park at the trailhead, restrooms and water.

Don’t miss: Formerly a major railroad junction, Perry is home to the historic Hotel Pattee, with themed rooms including many related to the railroad. The hotel is fully restored, caters to trail users, and includes interior art collections and unique outdoor public art spaces. Located just east of the caboose & trailhead, on Willis Avenue.

Town slogan: “Make Yourself At Home!”

Most famous son/daughter: Dwight D. Opperman (1923-2013), CEO of West Publishing; V.T. Hamlin (1900-1993) cartoonist, creator of “Alley Oop.”

Population:  224

Services for trail users: Water, food establishments, two bars, cold drinks in machine outside Community Center, picnic tables, bike racks and shelter house.

Nearest public restroom: Two food establishments in town – one on Main Street and one east of Main Street on Railway Street.

Don’t miss: Near Jamaica is an octagonally-shaped barn built in 1881, one of seven in Iowa to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The metal band Slipknot filmed the music video “Psychosocial” and recorded their fourth album “All Hope Is Gone” at the barn.

Town slogan: We haven’t found one yet but would like to suggest, “Welcome, Mon!”

“Aruba, Jamaica, ooh I want to take ya Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama Key Largo, Montego Baby why don’t we go Ooooh I wanna take you down to Kokomo!”

Most famous son/daughter: The Corn Kings, a local band who played toe-tapping music atop a Model T Ford in parades across Iowa and the U.S. including in Chicago, Minneapolis, Miami, Denver, Dallas, Las Vegas,

Population: 131

Services for trail users: Restrooms, water, cold drinks. City park west of depot and one block north of trail.

Nearest public restroom: At the Dawson Depot, a restored Milwaukee Railroad Depot, adjacent to trail, restrooms and water there, cold drinks in machine across the street. The depot is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily from May 1 through October 31.

Don’t miss: Sportsman Park cabins east of Dawson one block from trail. Call Dallas County Conservation Board at (515) 465-3577 to inquire about renting.

Town slogan: We haven’t found one yet but would like to suggest “Everything’s Awesome in Dawson!”

Most famous son/daughter:  Colton Morman, who was 18 at the time, won the 2009 election for mayor of Dawson.

Population:  1,755

Services for trail users: All services, east end of business district, restrooms, food and cold drinks at nearby businesses. For emergency bike parts, visit Rosalea Gallery at 1408 Walnut Street, west of Triangle Trailhead or call John at (515) 710-9375.

Nearest public restroom: Portable toilet, picnic tables and water fountain along trail at Triangle Trailhead.

Don’t miss: Farmers’ Market at Mound Park (west of trail on Walnut Street) from 4 to 7 p.m. on Friday nights from June to  September; Art in the Park on June 6 at Mound Park; Fall Festival August 28-29, 2015.

Town slogan:Quietly Progressive.”

Most famous son/daughter: Current Pittsburgh Pirates baseball pitcher, Tony Watson.

Population: 365

Services for trail users: Restrooms, food establishments, bar and water.

Nearest public restroom: At newly renovated depot building on west side of U.S. Highway 169. Will open in June 2015 with restrooms and water in north end and restaurant in south end. Also restrooms at fire station west of trail near Baker and Chestnut Streets.

Don’t miss: Outdoor roller skating rink and Meek Park Shelter west of trail at corner of Baker and Chestnut Streets.

Town slogan: “Little Town With a Big Heart!”

Most famous son/daughter: Billionaire Harry Stine, seed genetics entrepreneur and owner of Stine Seed Company; Warren Allen Smith, author and journalist in New York City.