Here’s a list of links to places and resources in the region. I’ve ridden many of these places and can provide some insight. Please reach out if you have any questions.
State Bicycle Maps
Most states now publish bicycle maps that show traffic counts on many state roads as well as road configuration, the existence of paved shoulders, etc. I’ve found these maps to be of dubious value overall as often times there may be county roads that can better get you to your location. Fortunately, states like Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin are now offering county maps that allow you to drill down and find lightly traveled roads that will take you just about anywhere you want to go.
Illinois – Illinois doesn’t have a downloadable PDF map, but you can order a paper copy. The good news is that this link does provide downloadable county maps.
Iowa – this link will get you a downloadable PDF file. There’s also a link if you want to order a free hard copy.
Iowa County Maps – I recently found this great resource of all the county maps in Iowa. I’ve downloaded these, so if the site goes away at some point, you can get these by emailing me.
Kansas – the Sunflower state has a colorful statewide downloadable map with city inserts.
Kansas County Maps – Statewide DOT maps for all Kansas counties that show road surfaces but not average traffic oounts.
Minnesota – this is an awesome resource from one of America’s best bicycling states. It includes not only a statewide map but county maps and a whole host of other tools.
Missouri – MoDOT offers statewide, regional and metropolitan maps.
Nebraska – Nebraska’s state map is big and colorful and includes inserts for most major cities.
South Dakota – South Dakota’s DOT provides two different maps, one that shows the type of road and the second that shows traffic counts. You can get both here.
Wisconsin – the land of cheese has the most comprehensive mapping resources of any state in the region. That’s not surprising as these folks were building bike trails like Elroy-Sparta back before it was cool.
Rail Trails and Trail Networks
Raccoon River Valley Trail – this is my home town trail and I ride it just about every day. It’s one of the longest completely paved trails in the US and consists of a 71 mile loop with a 13 mile spur to Jefferson. If you’re creative, you can squeeze a century out of it without ever getting on a street. It connects with the Clive Greenbelt for those who want to go further. Usage requires a trail pass. Visit the website and get an annual pass for $25. You’ll be supporting a great trail.
Central Iowa Trails – These folks specialize in off road cycling within an hour of Des Moines. Their site includes trail maps, current trail conditions and more.
Cowboy Trail (Nebraska) – The Cowboy Trail is currently completed bettween Norfolk and Valentine with an extension west to Chadron in the works. When the whole thing is done, it will be the longest rail trail in the world at 321 miles from end to end.
George S. Mickelson Trail (South Dakota) – The Mickelson Trail starts in Edgemont and winds its way north across the Black Hills for 100 miles to the old mining town of Deadwood. This is as close as you can come to mountain riding without being in the mountains.
Bike Law by State