ArrowTrail News and Upcoming Events: 

Trail Committee Meeting

The Trail Committee will meet at 9:30, prior to the beginning of the annual meeting, on January 23, 2016 at Kildee Hall in Ames.

Welcome to your Iowa equestrian trail riding experience!

The Iowa Horse Council believes in trail riding as an economic asset to the regional areas in the state of Iowa, and, to ensure the future of Iowa horse trails, has created a trails committee. The IHC encourages volunteers and supports the committee’s partnership with Iowa Department of Natural Resources in maintaining the quickly-growing popularity of trail riding. If you wish to donate or volunteer to maintain trails, please go to the volunteer webpage at the Iowa DNR:

The IHC also encourages equestrian representation in local Friends of Trails groups across Iowa. If you would like to join the Iowa Horse Trails Committee please contact Laurie Carnahan at

Ensure the future of Iowa horse trails: Before riding any trail in Iowa, first check to see if the trail is closed, or if there is limited access because of weather, and please also note there are very few “all weather equestrian trails” in Iowa; Brushy Creek and Jester Park Equestrian are two of them. Iowa DNR warns of riding any muddy trails because maintenance costs can quickly become untenable. Several trails in Iowa are already on an “endangered trail” list, wherein riding them in soft or muddy conditions will cause them to be at risk to close permanently. Please also respect trail policies and closings, whether the trails you find are private, city, county, state, or federal. Most contact information on the most popular public trails can be found at the Iowa DNR brochure/map link (DNR Trail Riding Brochure). Please also see below for commonly-accepted trail riding etiquette guidelines.

Finding Iowa Trails: The IHC has partnered with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Iowa Trail Riders Association (ITRA) to provide a brochure/map to equestrian trails in Iowa (which includes popular Iowa trails that are not managed by the State of Iowa): and direct to the DNR Trail Riding Brochure

Iowa Trails Summit: As a partner with the Friends of Iowa Trails, the Iowa Horse Council supports the Iowa Trails Summit. For more information on the Summit, and to have our trail user group represented in a trail riding tracking miles log, please go to:

Iowa Horse Council Trails Grants: The Iowa Horse Council’s grant application system encourages submissions to maintain or create new trails. Please access the IHC grant application page by clicking here

The Iowa Horse Council also sends a representative of equestrian interests to the Iowa Department of Transportation Recreational Trails Advisory Committee. The RTP grant is a federal grant that is administered by the Iowa Department of Transportation. You can access the grant information and application by clicking here.

Other Trail Grants:  The Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program of the National Park Service is a program which provides technical assistance to community groups, and local, state, and federal government agencies to enhance close-to-home outdoor recreation opportunities.  This program assists communities plan, organize partnerships, and achieve on-the-ground success on their projects. Current RTCA Iowa projects can be found Here.

For more information, please contact: Brian Leaders, RLA, at:, or by phone at (402) 661-1568, and be sure to watch the NPS video at:  Make Your Community’s Vision a Reality.

Iowa Trail Closures: For the latest Iowa DNR State Parks and Trails Closure List, click here.

The Iowa Horse Council also sends a representative of equestrian interests to the Iowa Department of Transportation Recreational Trails Advisory Committee. The RTP grant is a federal grant that is administered by the Iowa Department of Transportation. You can access the grant information and application at:

Other Links:

Below, you will find links that may help you search for trails and to contact friends of trails groups, and other trail riders. Many groups of Iowa equestrian trail riders have sprung up on Facebook – so search with terms similar to “Iowa Trails,” “Iowa Horse Trail,” “Iowa Equestrian Trail,” or “Iowa Trail Riders Association (ITRA).” To add contact information for a trails group or link, contact Laurie Carnahan at

American Trails

Friends of Boone County Trails and Madrid Trail Subcommittee

Friends of Shimek Trails

Google Trails Map

Horse and Mule Trails Guide

Horse and Travel

Horse Trail Directory

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Iowa Department of Transportation

Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation

Iowa Trail Riders Association

Rails to Trails


Trail Source

Equestrian Trail Etiquette (from brochure in part by Betty Grim-Newton, DVM, and printed by Iowa Trail Riders Association (ITRA)

  • Make sure your horse has the temperament and training for riding on congested public trails. Busy multi-use trails are not the proper place for schooling green horses.
  • Advise other trail users of your horse’s temperament, e.g. a horse that may kick should always wear a red ribbon on the tail or a stallion should wear a yellow ribbon.
  • Remove your horse from the trail if you begin experiencing behavior problems.
  • Announce your intentions to pass other trail users and reduce speed in order to pass safely. Pass on the left only.
  • Stay on equestrian approved trails
  • Bridges – If other trail users are approaching at the same time, allow them to cross first. This will give you more time to take your horse across safely (horses are not allowed on the High Trestle Trail Bridge)
  • Remember other trail users may not be familiar with horses. You are an ambassador for the entire equestrian community.
  • Do not clean out your trailer in parking areas
  • Clean up after your horse. Kick droppings off multi-use sections of trail.

General Guidelines and Etiquette Tips:

  • Respect the Trail: don’t littler. Use appropriate trash containers
  • Become the eyes and ears of the trail system. Report all problems to the appropriate authorities.
  • Share the trails – cyclists yield to all other trail users and hikers yield to equestrians.
  • Slower traffic should keep to the right of the trail; faster users pass on the left.
  • Do not pass on narrow bends and bridges – pass only when you can clearly see the trail and approaching traffic.
  • When passing other trail users; provide adequate warning and reduce speed.
  • Animals on the trail may act unexpectedly. Approach slowly and speak to the rider or dog walkers.
  • Tread gently when trails are muddy; footprints, bicycle ruts and hoof prints can damage the trails
  • If you choose to wear a stereo/headphone set, make sure the volume neither prevents you from hearing things happening around you, nor disturbs other trail users.
  • If you come upon an injured rider (horse or bicycle) get help immediately. If you come upon a rider-less horse get professional help. If you choose to approach the horse, speak softly, move slowly from the side – do not chase it.

Contact information: Laurie Carnahan email: