Progress continues on a new multi-use trail between Council Bluffs and Underwood, Iowa. Two bridges over Mosquito Creek completed this fall, helping link the paved trail to Weston, Iowa. Over the next few years, it will connect to Underwood and Neola.
The first section of trail, from Smith Wildlife Area to County Road L34, opened in late summer 2018. Council Bluffs extended a city trail to the Smith Wildlife Area.
“The new bridges are a crucial part of our countywide trail system. Despite some unanticipated delays, we’re excited to see it moving forward,” said Pottawattamie County Trails Association Board President Courtney Harter. “This trail will connect Council Bluffs with multiple small towns in Pottawattamie County and ultimately with other communities across southwest Iowa.”
Harter said the first four miles of the trail is completed to a point just south of Weston, Iowa. Construction of the trail to Underwood, Iowa, is set to continue next year, weather permitting. Construction this year was slowed by weather.
Nearly 20 miles of trail planned over the coming years will put the organization closer to its goal of creating a countywide loop for cyclists, runners and walkers.
Eventually, trails in Pottawattamie County will connect with those being developed in neighboring counties through the Frontier Iowa Trails network, with the ultimate goal of a contiguous trail network linking southwestern Iowa with central Iowa and eastern Nebraska.
Formal planning for the Pottawattamie County trails system began in 2012. Preferred routes for multi-use trails were identified through input at public meetings and with aid from the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program.
In conjunction with Pottawattamie County Conservation, PCTA has secured grants and donations to fund development, construction and maintenance of trails throughout the county.
The Iowa West Foundation committed $1.1 million through a “Trails Initiative” and has another $1.1 million identified to supplement matching grants for construction and planning efforts.
Additional funding sources include federal and state recreational funds, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ Resource Enhancement and Protection program and private contributions.
Other key partners include the Pottawattamie County Board of Supervisors; the cities of Council Bluffs, Underwood and Neola; and the U.S. National Park Service.
Harter said the trail will ultimately be owned by Pottawattamie County and managed by the Pottawattamie County Conservation Commission.
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