Doug’s guide to recreational trails for biking and hiking in NE Iowa—in and around West Union, Iowa


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VIDEOS of trails in West Union, Iowa

VIDEOS of trails near West Union, Iowa

Volga RIver State Recreation Area

West Union Recreation Center

Echo Valley Environmental Nature Trail (the Jensen Trail)

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This trail at Echo Valley State Park follows an old railroad bed. This park lies just a couple miles outside of West Union, Iowa and has many hiking & biking trails plus a challenging trek along the backbone.


 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!

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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.

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This is a section of the Jensen Trail.

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Thick foliage along the Jensen Trail.

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Heading towards the Goose Ranch on the Jensen Trail.

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The Otter Creek in Echo Valley State Park.

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Looking down at Campground from bridge #1.

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Between bridge #1 and bridge #2.

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Entrance to Jensen Trail (Echo Valley State Park) from the Goose Ranch.

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Entering the Jensen Trail (Echo Valley State Park) from the Goose Ranch.

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Heading south on Jensen Trail (Echo Valley State Park.)

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Creek bed from Jensen Trail vantage point.

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Bridge #2 heading north on Jensen Trail.

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Looking west from bridge #1 on Jensen Trail.

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Limestone staircase leading down to lake bottom (look closely!)

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Glover’s Creek wending its way through Echo Valley Park

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Show more Echo Valley picturesClose Echo Valley pictures

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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.

Alternate Text
There’s over a mile’s worth of walking/biking paths at the West Union Recreational  Center.

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One of three ponds at the West Union Rec Center

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There are many scenic views at the WU Rec Center—great for photography.

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

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(click images for video bike tours of West Union)

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Echo Valley Environmental Nature Trail 2022 (17 minutes 54 seconds)

Echo Valley Road bike ride to Echo Valley Park 2022 (29 minutes 40 seconds)

Echo Valley Park History – from Kevin Mason’s State Park Series (5 minutes 22 seconds)

West Union, Iowa | a 2022 bike tour of the south side of town (17 minutes 27 seconds)

Doug checks out RAGBRAI 2022 in West Union (19 minutes 20 seconds)

Exploring West Union 2022 (20 minutes 9 seconds)

Downtown West Union 2020 – version 1 (18 minutes 19 seconds)

Downtown West Union 2020 – version 2 (18 minutes 19 seconds)

Cook Street 2020 (6 minutes 19 seconds)

The West Union Recreation Center 2020 – full version (26 minutes 1 second)

Mysterious splashes on late-night bike ride at West Union Rec Center 2022 (1 minute 4 seconds)

Johnny’s new e-bike + a tour of some of West Union’s lesser-known streets 2023 (29 minutes 19 seconds)

Enchanting Trails of Echo Valley (49 minutes 59 seconds)

Echo Valley Trek with special guest Mark Haines (1 hour 2 minutes 16 seconds)

Doug’s biking/drone video of West Union Rec Center trail

Doug’s 2nd drone test—a mini-tour of Cook Street (7 minutes 29 seconds) 

A quick bike tour of West Union’s courthouse square (6 minutes 56 seconds)


Fayette (Iowa) Bike Trail starting from Klock’s Island (18 minutes 45 seconds)

Albany Bridge Trek—Volga River State Recreation Area (22 minutes 5 seconds)

Photos & Maps of Volga River State Recreation Area

Elgin (Iowa) Bike Trail (26 minutes 50 seconds)

Spillway Bike Ride—Harpers Ferry, Iowa (34 minutes 6 seconds)

The Crooked Forest Trek—West Union, Iowa (25 minutes 52 seconds)

Plum Creek Ride—Fredericksburg, Iowa (29 minutes 7 seconds)

Pony Hollow Trail—Elkader, Iowa (33 minutes 10 seconds)

Doug’s bike tour of St. Olaf, Iowa (29 minutes 52 seconds)

Trout Run Trail in Decorah, Iowa (35 minutes 42 seconds)

Prairie Farmer Recreational Trail in Calmar, Iowa (34 minutes 10 seconds)

Harpers Ferry bike ride—Harpers Ferry, Iowa (39 minutes 1 second)

Saint Feriole Island bike tour—Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin (45 minutes 31 seconds)

Doug’s Independence Bike Ride—Independence, Iowa (56 minutes 34 seconds)

Oelwein Municipal Urban Trail System (part 1 of 2) – Oelwein, Iowa (34 minutes 17 seconds)

Oelwein Municipal Urban Trail System (part 2 of 2) – Oelwein, Iowa (21 minutes 56 seconds)

Dutton’s Cave quick tour (10 minutes 32 seconds)

Trout Run Trail drone/bike tour—Decorah, IA (18 minutes 10 seconds)

Decorah Dog Park bike ride—Decorah, Iowa (20 minutes 34 seconds)

Klock’s Island Park | Bike & Drone tour – Fayette, Iowa (25 minutes 46 seconds)



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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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