As mentioned above, the trail at first seems to be a half mile of paved circuit, home to walkers and kids with dogs. But it is much more. If you ride the trail anti-clockwise, you won't even make the first left turn before you see a gravel trail heading westerly. Hop on it.
That trail continues to follow a retention dike for some way, actually clear around the lake. But from there, you can jump onto any number of dirt trails (access roads and hiking paths alike) into the woods.
From there the possibilities are endless. The trail I followed stuck to the real dike (Missouri River) and found that the trails were actually marked well with traffic signs of sorts (used as reference for park engineers and so on).
While the trails lack in some technical thrills like logs, bridges, and jumps, it is a great way to get into the quiet of nature and pump some rough miles on your legs. The paths vary from jeep trails to rugged hiking trails, and due to the nature of Iowan weather and the river itself, the paths on the river-side of the dike are ever changing.
One particularly sweet part was where there was a sort of brush lining each side of a jeep path, and the tops of the bruch on each side formed an arch, or tunnel, to ride through. This path ended up at yet another intersection of trails, from where I opted to go right, and there was the Mighty Missouri River in all its muddy glory. A great spot for a quick lunch, rest, nap, journal entry, or quick fishing fix.
The air of exploration, the many different paths to choose, and the joy of nature make this trail far better than most of whats available around here. Hope to see you there!
You should be able to easily find Lake Manawa from I-80, or from heading south from Council Bluffs on I-29 or 7th Street. On south-east side of Manawa Park (following 7th street through residential area and to park entrance). Heading west, it will be the first left, and appears to just be a half-mile paved loop, but it is much more. Park here and see below for review.
Who knows! Anywhere from 1 to 20 miles I woudl assume.
Summary: Since there are no reviews since 2004, I thought I would update.
I have ridden all the trails in the Omaha/Council Bluffs area. Although this is flat, it might be my favorite! It just doesn't seem to get old. Ride it fast, slow, with new riders or experianced one's. Log rides, teeter totters and man made bridge/log rides. I can't do alot of these, because I am just not that good! I do appreciate the ground level log ride that the local trail guys (THOR) built. It is nice to practice on and have just a tipover waiting instead of a 3ft fall, like some of the other logs.
Don't forget to check out the West side of the parking lot too, there are more trails there also!
I gave this an aerobic rating of only 2. If you ride it slow, it will barely make you breath heavy, but if you push it hard a couple laps, it'll give you a nice workout.
I gave it a technical rating of 3. If you ride the easy parts it's just singletrack with a few logs on the ground. If your feelin froggy, try cleaning the log rides. I would bet you can't get accross them all!!!
Overall, I gave it a 4. Disagree if you want, but I ride for fun and this is a good fun trail. I consider it a Nebraska/Iowa 4...not Colorado/Utah 4.
Recommended Route: I-80 / I-29 to the Lake Manawa Exit. South to Hwy 275 and head West. At 11th St you will see a Casey's gas station, turn Left (south). This will take you to a T intersection, go right and follow the road around the lake. Once on the south side of the lake, look for a road on the right that goes over the levee to a boat ramp on the river. On the south east edge of this parking lot is a kiosk with trail info.
Other recommended trails in the same area: Lewis and Clark Monument (I'm too lazy for this one, but it's good)
Swanson Park (another great trail in Omaha)
Jewell Park, Platte River State Park, and Tanquility.
Summary: The folks belonging to T.H.O.R. have pulled off something of a miracle with the construction of this trail. Given that the terrain is as flat as a pancake, the trail builders have utilized all the contours of the land to create a surprisingly fast and fun trail. If you are looking for challenging climbs and exhilarating downhills, you’ll have go elsewhere. But don’t let the flat terrain fool you. This is an excellent trail for interval work. Three laps at a fast clip should give you a sufficient cardiovascular workout. Three laps for me takes about an hour and twenty minutes. The straight-aways tend to be boring, yet the slaloms are pure bliss once you get your speed built up. Tony’s Playground contains some challenging log crossings, a few of which can be traversed only by MTB gods. The first log crossing in Tony’s Playground is deceptive. If you don’t hit the log pile straight on, you’ll bite the dirt. I have crashed on this log two times on two different days. My ribs are still sore even as I write. Some of the trickiness of the trail lies in its subtleties. For example, pieces of fallen bark that litter the trail at points become slippery when wet, and when dry can slip out from under you when cornering. And, watch those logs when they get a little bit wet—ouch! Some of the low-lying branches can draw blood if you do not duck at the right moment. Some of the paths between trees are feeler gauge tight with seemingly a few millimeters on each side of your handlebars. At the northern end of the trail you might actually encounter some sand whereas the sections on the southern end can be muddy the same day. The only complaints I have are somewhat nitpicky. For example, some of the weeds adjacent to the trail have sticky little burs that love to lodge themselves in your socks and shorts—takes a while to pick them out (seems to be a Nebraska/Iowa phenomenon). Perhaps some more aggressive weed-whacking is in order here. For first-timers it is not altogether clear where trail turnoffs exist. If you go out there make sure that you go with someone who has ridden the trail. A bit more trail marking would be helpful along these lines. Finally, I would love to see the straight-aways modified with either some air producing jumps or maybe a bit more of a slaloming effect. This trail has great winter potential and is altogether suitable for night riding. It will be great when the present system is expanded toward the power plant to the south. Thanks T.H.O.R. for all the hard work that you have put into this project!
Recommended Route: Park at the riverfront where the telephone poles are used as dividers in the parking lot. Look for the trail head that heads south and runs roughly parallel with the Missouri River.
Other recommended trails in the same area: Lewis & Clark, Platte River, Swanson, and Tranquility Park
Summary: Easyiest way to get to this trail is to go to the south side of Lake Manawa by taking one of the roads around the lake. Take the only gravel road on the south side of the lake it will take you to the boat ramp. Park at the boat ramp and ride east along the river into the woods. Once you ride about 1/8 mile the trail starts to take shape. This trail is young but the guys working on it have done a gread job with the terain avaible (ITS FLAT!!!) That being said, if there is a bump or a hill or a dip on this land the guys used it. There is everything from easy grassy single track the whole family could ride on to Log piles for you trials guys out there. Bottom line is this trail needs to be ridden the more we ride it the better it gets!!! AS for my ratings this place is flat so I usually ride three laps =5 miles a lap. If you ride hard and try and turn in good times it is fun. as for technical difficulty it is really a easy trail for stuff in the area with the exception of some of the log piles and burms. Overall rating come on folks its NE I'm just glad we got something to ride so get out there and ride it!
Recommended Route: Start South along the river and head East
Other recommended trails in the same area: Swanson, Memorial, Platte River, Indian Caves, Tranquility COMING SOON thanks T.H.O.R.!!!!!
Summary: Being located in the Missouri River flood plain, this trail is flat. It does offer a variety of riding conditions including smooth straight sections, moderate sands near the river, tight single track, and a few technical sections that deserve further comment. Two separate portions of trail are best described as obstacle courses, full of tight turns and littered with logs to hop including a triple log rhythm section. In my opinion, these are the most challenging segments of flat trail in the area.
The trail is less than a year old and still choppy in places. Inherently, the surface continues to improve with use and some of the turns that originally seemed overly tight or awkward are developing smooth lines. Overall, the well-designed trail has some unique features and is suitable for off-road riders of all abilities. The Lake Manawa Trail is a great addition to the local trail network.
Recommended Route: Enter the trail at the southeast corner of the parking lot and go east along the river. The perimeter trail is fairly gentle and makes a counter clockwise loop with the parking lot in the center. Riders have the option to stay on the perimeter trail and bypass the technical sections.
Other recommended trails in the same area: Lewis and Clark Monument, Swanson Park, Lake Cunningham horse trails
Summary: Lake Manawa is a great place to ride. It's obvious that much care and contemplation went into the design and construction of the trails. They've done a great job of maximizing the available terrain, including many log hops, log rides and middle-ring, twisty singletrack. I had a great time riding there, and suspect anyone with a love for dirt would too.
Recommended Route: Direction arrows are printed on the trail maps at the trailhead. Even on our first trip to the trail, we easily made sense of the various loops and how they inter-connected
Other recommended trails in the same area: Lewis & Clark monument, Platte River State Park, Swanson Park