Riding a bike is an unofficial rite of passage as a child. Once you get the training wheels off, you've accomplished a great feat that not only lets your friends know that you have exceptional balance, but it also means more independence, as you are now capable of traveling to faraway places without depending on your parents for a ride...Well, as long as you're back home in time for dinner.
Cycling is not an activity that merely evokes nostalgic memories of adventure and independence; it is still an activity that is very popular and present today in our community among people of all ages, from grandparents to children alike. From family bike outings, hosting the world's longest, largest, and oldest bicycle touring event to celebrating biking through art, we have a unique cycling culture to be proud of in the state of Iowa.
Eenie Meenie Miney Mo...
With almost 2000 miles of trails in Iowa, it can be hard to know which ones to try. Here are three popular trails whose trailheads can be found in Des Moines and the Greater Des Moines area:
Chichaqua Valley Trail
Great Western Trail
- Distance: 20 Miles
- Parking: Polk County trailhead is on NE 88th Street, south of Highway 65, one mile east of Bondurant.
- Surface: Paved
- Interesting Fact: Trail crosses stone bridges that are dated from the Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nebraska Railroad in 1885.
High Trestle Trail
- Distance: 16.5 Miles
- Parking: Valley Drive/George Flagg Parkway near Park Avenue
- Surface: Asphalt
- Interesting Fact: Originally established as a rail line for the Chicago Great Western Company from Des Moines to St. Joseph, Missouri.
Des Moines' Park and Recreation and BIKEIOWA both offer useful information about the hundreds of others trails around the state and the restaurants and activities you can do along the way.
- Distance: 25 Miles
- Parking: Trailheads are located in Ankeny (Look for the Water Tower off First Ave to find the parking area), Sheldahl (Rest area with gazebo, picnic table, restrooms available at Oasis), Slater (Right off 6th Avenue in Earl Grimm Park), Madrid (Parking lot is right along the trail just off Hwy 17/S. Kennedy Avenue), and Woodward (Restored Depot offers restrooms and parking).
- Surface: Paved
- Interesting fact: The Trestle Bridge located between Woodward and Madrid is 13 stories tall with special lighting at night. It is the fifth largest trail bridge in the world.
Interested, but don't own a bike? No problem!
A bicycle rental service is available at Gray's Lake Park, and the city has also created a bicycle rental system around the downtown Des Moines area with multiple B-stations to make traveling by bike convenient.
Riding a bike is better for the environment and for your health, but it's also a great way to spend quality time with your friends and family or to wind down after a long day. National Bike Month may be wrapping up, but summer has only just begun. It's never too late to get on a bike and ride off into the sunset...and now you can just grab dinner along the way!