a convenient online guide to bike (and hiking) trails in NE Iowa—in and around West Union, Iowa


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Echo Valley Environmental Nature Trail

West Union Recreation Center


 The above picture shows the access point to the “Jensen Trail” that leads through Echo Valley Park from what locally is referred to as the “Goose Ranch.”
(Click above picture for a short YouTube video of the trail.)

This well-maintained dirt/gravel trail (see photos below) runs along the old railroad bed situated in Echo Valley Park—located just outside of West Union, Iowa (to access the main entrance to Echo Valley Park, follow Echo Valley Road just south of West Union.)

The park’s bike/hiking trail can be accessed from several different points—the three most-popular would be:

  • The park’s main entrance > the picnic/camping area to the left at the bottom of the hill as you drive into the park (before you cross the stream.) Getting to the trail from here involves climbing a steep path to access the trail and is not recommended.
  • The park’s main entrance > through the stream at the bottom of the hill (yes, you can drive right through it > proceed up a winding hill to the shelter house. There’s plenty of parking there, and trail access is very convenient.
  • Accessing the trail from the Goose Ranch—that’s where I hopped on the trail for today’s photo shoot—see picture below.

    Directions to the Goose Ranch:

1. From Casey’s in West Union, go 1/2 mile E on Hwy 18
2. Turn right at Elgin exit
3. Proceed 1 mile, then turn right onto Hazel Road (gravel road)
4. Proceed 1.8 miles until you come to a T-intersection (Hornet Rd)
5. This area is locally known as the “Goose Ranch;” and to your immediate right, you’ll see a small parking area for access to the Echo Valley Environmental Nature Trail.

The trail is a wide (7-10 feet) dirt/gravel path, 1.45 miles long. So, a leisurely round trip of 2.9 miles on bicycle—starting from the Goose Ranch, running through the park and then returning to the Goose Ranch— takes approximately 27 minutes.

Echo Valley Park was at one time at state park. My understanding is now (in 2022), it’s a county park.

Most of the improvements on the trail can be attributed to a Mr. Dick Jensen from the West Union, Iowa area.

As you can tell, this is a beautiful trail beneath a thick canopy of trees and over three bridges which span Otter Creek—truly a hidden treasure here in West Union!

From the Goose Ranch entrance to Echo Valley Par, this is the start of the bike/walking trail.
(If you look closely, you’ll notice the chain across the path to prevent motorized vehicles.)

This dirt/stone trail extends 1.45 miles from the Goose Ranch along the old rail bed through Echo Valley to the main entrance.

Along the trail, you’ll see lots of natural beauty—including streams, trees, grasslands and wildlife.

Otter Creek winds along the trail.

Coming from the Goose Ranch entrance, this is the first of three bridges you’ll cross.

This is the second of three bridges you’ll cross.

This is looking to the east off bridge #2.

This is looking to the west off bridge #2.

If you look closely, you can see stone steps leading down from the shelter house area into what was once a lake.

This part of the trail leads up to the crossroads—where if you turn left, you’ll leave the park; if you turn to the right, you’ll go to the shelter house; and if you continue forward, you’ll cross bridge #3 after which the trail terminates at the park’s main entrance road.

This view is from bridge #3 and is looking to the west.

This view is from bridge #3 looking to the east. In the right area—obscured by trees—you can see the parking/camping area.

Here is one of the many “off trail” paths that lead into some of the more-rugged areas of Echo Valley Park.

WEST UNION RECREATION CENTER (click for a bike tour)

The West Union Recreation Center, located on North Pine Street on the north end of West Union, Iowa, is a complex consisting of softball & soccer fields, a swimming pool, two lakes (with fishing), a park with playground equipment and one mile’s worth of paved, walking/biking trails.

Above is an aerial map of the West Union Recreation Center.


(click images for video bike tours of West Union)


8 thoughts on “West Union Bike/Walking Trails”

  1. Cleone Kay Rupp Fordham

    Hi Doug. Cleone Rupp Fordham here. Grew up on Walnut Street. Class of 1955. Enjoying visiting my great home town vicariously through her videos. Great job!

    1. doug@memorybrothers

      I’m sure a few things look different now—but much hasn’t changed! Glad you’re enjoying the site.

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