Prematurely Pedaling - Gay Lea Wilson Trail

Trail Map

Trail Information


  • Work has been underway to connect Ankeny to Pleasant Hill via the Gay Lea Wilson trail.  After hearing rumors the trail was open for business, I decided to go find out if it was true.  Turns out I was a week early.  

  • Since there isn’t an official trail head where the trail begins in Ankeny off of the 400 block of SE Oralabor road, I used the parking lot at Sportsmans Warehouse.

  • The trail starts off as asphalt but changes to concrete where the trail has been extended.  The new trail is wide and smooth with well groomed shoulders.  This trail link includes some significant grades along with a few curvy spots alongside and I-80.

  • Other than the short distance of wooded area traveling south from Oralabor there is no tree canopy.

  • Despite it visibly continuing on towards Pleasant Hill, the trail was designated as closed in Berwick at the corner of NE 29th and NE 54th Ave.  As tempting as it was to pedal past the orange barricade and continue my ride, I followed the rules and headed back towards Ankeny.  

  • The only convenient location for stopping for a break was the Carney Marsh area.  However, since it’s only a mile from where the trail begins in Ankeny I didn’t really need to to stop to rest.


  • Watch out for traffic when crossing NE 66th and also SE Delaware.  

  • This trail segment is a good one for getting a biking workout in.  The long inclines left me huffing and puffing but were spaced out well enough for some good recovery time.

  • Since the majority of this trail segment is out in the open be prepared for sun or wind depending on what Mother Nature might be serving up.

  • Today was a lesson learned as I returned home to find information online about the trail opening on October 30th. Next time I’ll check the internet for updates before I head out on a the trail!


  • I took a short stop at Carney Marsh to check out the view and warm up my frosty fingers.


  • About a mile into the ride you’ll find Carney Marsh  It was a quiet day on the marsh.  With the weather turning colder and many birds having begun their migration south I wasn’t surprised by not being able to spot any wildlife.  I will have to keep this trail in mind when it’s birding season as the marsh is a popular spot for getting good views of heron and other water birds.

  • The remainder of this ride travels through industrial areas.  Views include lots of warehouse buildings and huge power lines.


  • Boy was I cold when I returned to the car!  Thankfully Caribou coffee was right next door.  I got a hot latte to enjoy with my homemade muffin and a Honeycrisp apple.