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Scenic Iowa bike trail

Scenic Iowa bike trail
(MRT, Inc.)


This website provides an overview of Iowa's Mississippi River Trail (MRT) plan and links to the full plan. The plan presents a safe, economically beneficial, and scenic MRT route through Iowa. Public comments, which were solicited through this site, are included in Appendix D.

The plan was commissioned by the Iowa Department of Transportation and developed by the Center for Transportation Research and Education at Iowa State University.


The Mississippi River Trail (MRT) is a world-class bicycle trail that will follow the Mississippi River all the way from its headwaters in Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. The trail is partially completed; much of it is still in the planning and development stages. When complete, the MRT will link over 2,000 miles of recreational trails through 10 states, including 280 miles in Iowa.

Designated as a National Millennium Trail, the Mississippi River Trail will preserve precious natural environments along the river, stimulate economic growth in river communities, and provide bicyclists access to a variety of landscapes, history, and culture.


Safety Benefits

Iowa's Mississippi River Trail will create safe new routes for bicycles and improve safety on existing routes for both bicycles and motor vehicles. The MRT will add bicycle lanes to many roadways and thereby remove cyclists from the same travel path as automobiles and trucks. The additional paved shoulder width required for bicycle lanes has also been shown to reduce motor vehicle crashes.

View from Effigy Mounds Fire Point

View of the Mississippi River from Fire Point
(Effigy Mounds National Park)

Economic Benefits

The MRT will also stimulate tourism all along Iowa's eastern border, bringing approximately 20 million additional dollars to the state's economy each year. The trail construction plan is designed to be as cost efficient as possible while maintaining safety as the first priority.

Recreational Benefits

Iowa's Mississippi River Trail will be located as close to the Mississippi River as is practical, never more than 10 miles away, and will provide convenient access to river views, area attractions, and connections to trails in all adjacent states. The MRT will encourage exercise, sight-seeing, and appreciation of Iowa's natural, historic, and cultural riches along the Mississippi River.