Winter Ride on the High Trestle Trail

Trail: High Trestle Trail

Location: West of Madrid to Woodward

Ride Length:  Short

Surface: Concrete

Terrain:  Flat with a slight grade west of the bridge

Date:    2-8-2014

Time:    2:00

Weather: 20/Calm/Cloudy

Starting Point: Trailhead west of Madrid

Ride Map


  • The High Trestle Trail is a 25 mile route between Ankeny and Woodward.  With fantastic trail conditions and beautiful scenery, it's hands-down my favorite Iowa trail.The concrete trail is smooth with very slight grades and wide shoulders.  

  • I had never ridden this trail during winter before and was curious to see what the views from the bridge would be like in the snow. My plans were to begin my ride at the Woodward trailhead. However, a parked car was blocking the entrance.Since I wasn't sure if this was sign the trailhead was closed, I headed towards Madrid on Highway 210, crossing my fingers I would be able to ride the trail. 

  • About 4 miles east of Woodward, I turned left onto a gravel road leading to a trailhead parking area.  Thankfully there wasn't any indication the trail was closed so I parked, unloaded my bike, and was on my way.

  • Choosing to ride my husbands mountain bike was a good decision.  It’s wide knobby tires were a perfect match for the snow covered trail.  Pedaling through the 1-2 inches of fluffy snow didn't prove challenging.

  • While there were lots of footprints in the snow going out to the bridge, no other cyclists had made it out on the trail yet. Feeling adventurous, I arrived at the bridge and quickly realized I was the first person to cross it after the recent snowfall. I pedaled out to the middle and stopped at one of the overlook spots to take in the beautiful view.

  • It was a rare calm day in Iowa.  Without the wind there was a sense of reverence in the quiet. For the majority of the season winter has been showing it's bitter side.  On this day I was able to appreciate the beauty the season brings and wondered if winter’s reputation is unfair.  

  • I continued my ride west and turned around at the Woodward trailhead.  Entering the bridge on my way back I saw how some nice person pickup had driven the trail from Madrid to clear the snow.  I was slightly disappointed as pedaling through the snow had been so much fun!


  • Snowmobiles are not permitted on this trail during winter leaving it a peaceful place to bike, hike, or cross country ski.  

  • With people choosing to visit the bridge on foot.  It may be necessary to take it slow across the bridge keeping an eye out for pedestrians.


  • Brief stop on the bridge to take in the view. 


  • The highlight of this trail is the bridge.  Crossing the Des Moines River it is 13 stories high and a half mile long.  The design of the bridge pays tribute to the coal mining industry that once thrived in the area.  The spiraling steel frames represent supports used in the coal mines and the designs of the entrance towers depicts veins of coal found in limestone.

  • There are several overlook spots for enjoying the view of the river valley.  Educational signs are posted providing information about the bridge and local habitat.


  • After wrapping up my ride I headed home to a relaxing cup of hot lapsang souchong tea and a couple of cookies. 

Wrap Up

This ride was the perfect length on a cold winter day.  Seeing the bridge in it’s snow covered glory was beautiful.  Being the first person to make tracks in the snow while crossing it was a special experience and one I won’t forget.