Bike Ride to Western Gateway Park

Trail:  Jordan Creek, Walnut Creek, Bill Riley, Meredith

Date:    12-1-2013

Time:    11:00 AM

Weather: 30/Calm/Cloudy

Mileage: 15

Route Map


Overview

  • This is a network of trails that travels from West Des Moines to downtown Des Moines.  The asphalt trail is smooth and runs flat other than a couple of spots just outside of Raccoon River Park.  

  • The Walnut Creek and Bill Riley portions travel through wooded areas.  The remaining segments are out in the open.

  • The Quick Trip at the corner of 63rd and Railroad can serve as a location for restrooms and water during the off season for Raccoon River Park's facilities.

Considerations

  • A portion of the route is closed just east of 63rd street.  Be on the look out for traffic while riding through the marked detour.

  • Just southeast of North Valley drive the Walnut Creek trail is under construction.  I got off my bike and walked it through the rough gravel and dirt.  Thankfully it was a quiet construction area on the day of my ride.

  • When riding through Water Works keep a look out for cars.  Most people drive slowly through the park since it’s a popular location for walkers and cyclists.   

  • Meredith trail stops at MLK and SW 16th Street.  The remainder of this route was on about 3-4 blocks worth of sidewalk.

  • Wool socks and my waterproof hiking boots did the trick on keeping my feet warm in the 30 degree temperatures.  I packed some footwarmers in my bag just in case, but didn’t need them.  

Stops

  • Western Gateway Park, located downton Des Moines,  was the destination of my ride.  Here I visited the Papajohn Sculpture Park. My favorite piece was the Three Dancing Figures. It was a cheerful pop of color on a cloudy day

Sightings

  • Starting my ride next to the softball complex in Raccoon River Park  I immediately noticed tons of geese on the fields.  Not a single goose was outside the fields, just inside.  Weird!  Apparently Canadian Geese like to play softball?

  • With the leaves gone from the trees it was easy to spot birds.  I saw Cardinals, Blue Jays, Juncos, and  Nuthatches.  This time of year Bald Eagles can also be spotted along the Raccoon River.  It was my lucky day.  I saw several sitting majestically at the tops of the trees keeping an eye out for a fish dinner.

  • This time of year Jolly Holiday Lights takes place in Water Works Park.  It is Iowa’s largest light display and a  fundraising event by the Make-A-Wish foundation. Lots of displays were set up waiting for visitors to enjoy during the nighttime hours.

  • The Temple of the Performing Arts building hosts a Starbucks where I warmed up while checking out their list of events.  

  • Between the Temple for the Performing Arts and the Des Moines Public library is the the Temple Chess Garden.  There are several chess tables and a small garden surrounded by fencing. Looking closely I noticed lines of poetry in the fence’s design.

Treats

  • A warm soy latte was my treat of choice today.  It was just what I needed to help me warm up before heading back to West Des Moines.