Howard County Recreational Trails

Howard County Recreational Trails

Find out about all the Recreational Trails in Howard County and where they are connected!

Howard County has the Old Roundhouse Trail and Wapsi-Great Western Line Trail by Elma and Riceville.  We also have the Prairie Springs Recreational Trail in Cresco that links to the Prairie Farmer Recreational Trail in Winneshiek County.

Over 400 miles of groomed snowmobile trails led by enthusiastic volunteers from the Driftrunners Snowmobile Club and Howard County Jumpstumpers as well as the passionate volunteers for the Prairie Springs XC Ski & Snowshoe Trail makes winter in Howard County the place to be!

Whether you bike, hike, walk, run, snowmobile, cross country ski, bird watch, or just enjoy nature, Howard County Recreation Trails are year-round fun for everyone!

Check out all the trails below that make Howard County a great place to live, work, and play!

Wapsi-Great Western Line Trail

Wapsi-Great Western Line Trail

The Wapsi-Great Western Line (WGWL) Trail is 27+ miles of paved rural escape with a Northern Branch of 14+ miles and a Southern Branch of 13+ completed miles. The Trailhead is located in Riceville at 110 E Main Street with overflow additional parking at 202 East 2nd Street.

The WGWL Trail is an endorsed Rails-to-Trails corridor with the majority of the trail running on an abandoned railroad bed and winding through rural countryside.

The WGWL Trail has been designated as the interstate connecting trail between Iowa and Minnesota, connecting to Minnesota's Shooting Star Trail in southern Minnesota.

There is no daily or annual pass purchase requirements to enjoy the Wapsi-Great Western Line.

The following official events support maintenance and enhancement of the WGWL Trail:
  • IronHorse Half-Marathon, 10K & 5K Race
  • Derailed Adventure: A Multi-Sport Team Challenge Race
  • The WGWL Excursion: An organized bike ride with progressive refreshment
  • A Christmas Tea: Full salad bar, soup, sandwich and dessert bar amidst festive entertainment
  • Sweetheart Ski and Chili Supper: Cross-country ski by luminary with your sweetheart around Valentine's Day and enjoy a bowl of chili upon your return

The WGWL Trailhead Welcome Center is open Saturdays and Sundays from 2:00pm - 5:00pm.

Find us on Facebook at

NBHF 5K Run/Walk/Bike

NBHF 5K Run/Walk/Bike

The NBHF 5K Run/Walk/Bike takes place the third Saturday in September as part of the Norman Borlaug Harvest Fest in Cresco honoring the achievements and passion of Dr. Norman Borlaug.

The 5K is a competitive run, a fun walk, and a family bike ride, featuring a scavenger hunt for riders.
Prizes and gifts for winners and participants.

The mission of the 5K is to connect friends and family of all ages to enjoy the trails and outdoors as we remember Dr. Norman Borlaug's lifelong work to feed the hungry.

Your registration and sponsorship helps fund:
Norman Borlaug Heritage Foundation
Don Davis Good Samaritan Fund
Prairie Springs Recreational Trail
Howard County Food Pantries
One organization beyond Northeast Iowa helping people
101 2nd Ave SW
Cresco IA 52136

Be sure and take in all the events at the Norman Borlaug Harvest Fest! Tractor Show, Inspire Day at the Borlaug Farm, Food, Music, Games, Parade, Cemetery Walk, Omelet Breakfast and so much more!

Prairie Springs Recreational Trail

Prairie Springs Recreational Trail

Whether walking, biking, or nature watching,the Prairie Springs Recreation Trail (PSRT) is a 3 mile paved trail accessed from downtown Cresco at Balk Park to Vernon Springs winding along the Prairie's Edge Nature Center next to the Turkey River.

Along the trail are benches and picnic tables to stop and enjoy your moment outdoors.Breathtaking beauty and glorious displays of nature can be seen the entire length of this trail surprising the delighted recreational enthusiast with prairie grass, flowers, rolling farmland, and shaded woods that brings you back to a less complex world.

But the trail doesn't stop there! Connecting to the Prairie Springs Farmer Trail, this paved 22 mile experience traverses through an old railroad bed offering views of rich Iowa farmland along the way.

Cresco's Fitness Trail possesses outdoor fitness equipment strategically placed along the recreation trail (PSRT) and offers a work-out for all ages and levels. Enjoy a run/walk and work-out al lalong the trail because this scenic experience now adds a challenge to all fitness levels! 

Old Roundhouse Trail

Old Roundhouse Trail

The Old Roundhouse Trail is a portion of the Wapsi-Great Western Line Trail, soon to be connected to the trail of the same name stretching north through Howard and Mitchell counties. The current Old Roundhouse Trail portion is 5.3 miles from Elma proper to Acme. The trail is currently being extended to meet up with the Wapsi-Great Western Line Trail into Riceville for another 18.75 miles of Trail.  When finished, the Wapsi-Great Western Line Trail will run approximately 24 miles from Elma northwest through Riceville and northwest into Mitchell county.  Plans are underway to extend the trail to go to Austin MN, making it a 77-mile long trail once done.

Elma's Old Roundhouse Trailhead and Welcome Center is at the north depot area, near the covered bridge in the center of town on Busti Avenue. Trailhead signage and landscaping completed as an Eagle Scout project of Elma Boy Scout, Zach Weigel. The Trailhead Welcome Center hours for the season are 7:00am - 7:00pm daily May 9th-Labor Day, then weekends only Fall/early winter until the first snow.

Run Elma

Old Roundhouse Trail 5K

Run Elma

The Old Roundhouse Trail Days 5k Run/Walk (also known as Elma 5k) began in 2007. As part of the annual city-wide celebration, the Old Roundhouse Trail Days 5k Run/Walk was created.

The mission of the event is to:

Bring attention to the Old Roundhouse Trail section of the Wapsi Great Western Line recreation trail.
Raise funds for the completion of the trail.
Raise funds for the renovation of the Trailhead (depot) and museum (one-room school house) projects as well as their ongoing upkeep.
Have a family-friendly event in which families and all-generations can participate.

The Run/Walk is for everyone.  There are serious runners and casual walkers who participate. There have been finishers as young as 6 years old up to 80 years young. 
Trophies are awarded to the overall male and female winners. 

Medals are awarded to the top three male and female runners in the following age categories:
12 and under, 13-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70 and over

For more information, click on link to website or search on facebook for Elma Run.

409 2nd St
Elma, IA  50628

Prairie Springs XC Ski & Snowshoe Trails

Prairie Springs XC Ski & Snowshoe Trails

A total of 10K of cross country ski trails and 5K of snowshoe trails can be found at the Prairie Springs Nature Center south of Cresco, Iowa. Prairie Springs XC Ski & Snowshoe Trails have been rated third in the State of Iowa and are a favorite among skiers from Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois.

Ski trails feature both a skating lane and a classical track. There are both packed and ungroomed snowshoe trails in the north side park unit. The south side park unit has two packed trails for snowshoeing or for walking. We do not encourage walking on ski trails at any time.

Find all your up-to-date skiing information at our facebook page by searching Prairie Springs Ski & Snowshoe Trails.

Snowmobile Trails

Driftrunners Snowmobile Club

Snowmobile Trails

Over 200 miles of groomed trails makes Driftrunners your premier snowmobiling club in Northeast Iowa and connects to our friends in the west, the Howard County Stumpjumpers Trails.

Driftrunners Snowmobile Club was named 2014 ISSA Club of the year and is a non-profit organization established in 1968. A long history of snowmobiling in northeast Iowa, Driftrunners is proud to contribute financially to those who are affected by Spina Bifida and to their families.

You are invited to the annual Snowfest held the last full weekend in January. Activities, events, and lots of snowmobiling makes this weekend a big success for all! February hosts Charlie's Chili Feed and is always fun to ride with new and old friends. Hosting a Steak Fry and Membership Drive in September and the annual Kick-Off Dance and Toys for Tots Drive gets everyone ready for winter in November and is the count down to Snowfest.

Watch for signs along the trails. Snowmobiling on private land is a privilege not a right. Please respect private property so we may continue to use.

Cresco has been named a Snowmobile Friendly Community.
Proud Member of the Cresco Area Chamber of Commerce and we accept Cresco Chamber Dollars.
Search Driftrunners Snowmobile Club on facebook

Snowmobile Trails

Howard County Stumpjumpers

Snowmobile Trails

Howard County Stumpjumpers, a non-profit established in 1975, grooms over 200 miles of trails in Howard County. Connecting to the Driftrunner Trails, you can find Stumpjumper Trails as you travel north through Howard County to LeRoy, MN, south to Jerico and Alta Vista, and west to Saratoga, Elma and Riceville.

Activities throughout the year make winter sledding fun for everyone:

Poker Runs, Chili Feeds, and Family Fun Days are just some of the great ways Howard County Stumpjumpers gets you sledding with family and friends!

Watch for signs along the trails. Snowmobiling on private land is a privilege not a right. Please respect private property so we may continue to use.
Search for us on facebook at Howard County Stumpjumpers.