One of the economic bright spots during the COVID-19 pandemic has been bike sales. With fewer options to stay active while still social distancing, most people are eager to get outside during their free time. Central Iowa offers many trails and riders — experienced and new alike — are hitting them hard.
As a bike trail enthusiast, here are some of my favorites and some I can’t wait to try.
Des Moines bike trails
The Des Moines metro area offers a plethora of trails designed for biking. And the good news is that most connect with each other to enable riders to go from one end of the metro to the other.
Clive Greenbelt Trail
Riders can hop on the Clive Greenbelt Trail at Lion’s Park in Clive and ride to the Walnut Creek Trail in Windsor Heights. For 11 miles, riders can enjoy the paved surface as it winds through Clive. Surrounded by trees, the trail takes riders past a few parks, including Campbell Park.
Jordan Creek Trail
Another notable trail on the west side of the metro is the Jordan Creek Trail — my personal favorite. It starts at Brookview Park in West Des Moines and follows the Jordan Creek eastward. It then passes by the popular Raccoon River Park before eventually meeting up with the Walnut Creek Trail. Riders should look for deer along the trail as they enjoy the nearby creek.
Coming from the west, once you get closer to downtown you’ll ride through some popular destinations in Des Moines. Water Works Park is among the first that riders will pass through, then Gray’s Lake Park. Bearing several names, such as Bill Riley and Meredith, the trail continues eastward toward downtown.
A favorite destination once you’ve reached downtown is Mullets. Claiming to have the best breakfast in Des Moines, the restaurant has outdoor seating and a second-story patio, offering terrific views of downtown Des Moines. There’s plenty of space next to the restaurant to rest and rehydrate before you continue your ride.
Great Western Trail
I’ve yet to experience this trail; however, it’s ranked as one of the most popular in Central Iowa. The Great Western Trail takes riders from Water Works Park in Des Moines on a journey to the city’s southwest side, eventually turning south toward nearby bedroom communities. The trail is 17.2 miles and passes through Orilla, Cumming, and Martensdale, and by the Des Moines International Airport, so look for planes.
Other Central Iowa bike trails
High Trestle Trail
For my friends on the north side of the metro, the High Trestle Trail is a gem. This 25-mile, paved trail takes riders from Ankeny to Woodward, or vice versa, depending from which trailhead you start. The highlight of the trail is the High Trestle Trail bridge — a half mile and 13-stories high. At night, the bridge is illuminated by spiraling blue lights.
Remember to strap on your helmet and don’t forget some basic biking courtesies, like giving enough space between riders at public stops. This is especially important as we continue social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Always alert folks ahead of you that you will be passing and consider adding mirrors to your bike to keep tabs on who’s behind you.
Stay safe and have fun! And check out some other fun outdoor locations to help you keep active.