Riding the Des Moines Regional Trails

Trail Map

Trail Information

Overview

  • Walnut Creek, Bill Riley, Meredith, and Des Moines River trails are integral parts of the Des Moines bike trail network as they connect all four corners of the metro area. Walnut Creek  and Bill Riley travel through wooded areas while Meredith and Des Moines River are more out in the open. Along the trails signs point riders in right direction and provide mileage information.

  • This network of trails not only provides routes for traveling around Des Moines, it gives riders shelter for biking on windy days and place to ride when other trails aren’t maintained during winter months.  

  • My bicycle ride began in Windsor Heights at Colby Park.  Immediately I was faced with a section of trail covered with a soup of slush, mud, and water.  I got concerned when I felt my tires easing deeper into the gunk but made it through without needing to get my feet wet. Thankfully this would end up being the most challenging portion of my ride.

  • The winter conditions of the trails were a menagerie of dry asphalt, snow, gravel, mud, and water.  My bike and I bike got covered in grime, but on this pretty day with it’s glimpses of spring, I didn’t mind.

  • For a change of pace I used my watch rather than an odometer to track my ride.  It was surprising to find out later just far I had traveled.  In my book a ride over 15 miles is considered a long one, so I was extra happy to have put in my first long ride of the year.

  • The bridge at SE 14th Street was my turnaround spot for this out-n-back ride.

Considerations

  • There are 3 sections of construction to be aware of:  235 bridge,  63rd street bridge and also southeast of North Valley Drive.

  • Slow down and use caution at the blind corner underneath the train trestle on the Bill Riley Trail.

  • Office workers from downtown frequently use the Meredith Trail for their lunchtime workout.  Use cycling etiquette when passing pedestrians.

  • Be prepared to wait for traffic when crossing SE 6th Street.

Sightings

  • With all the tracks on the frozen Raccoon River it resembled a snowmobile raceway. I’m sure a fat bike or two had contributed to the collection.

  • A fashion photo shoot was underway in Water Works park.  The bright blue of the models dress stood out against the browns of dormant trees and dried grasses.

  • The list of items I’ve found on the trail continues to grow.  On this ride I saw a running shoe perched on a post at the bridge in WaterWorks park.  Hopefully it’s owner returns to claim it.  

  • Cyclists with bikes needing attention will find a public work stand on the Meredith Trail at the SW 1st Street bridge.  Air, tools, and a bike stand are all ready to be put to task.   A bar code on the front of the stand can be scanned with a smartphone for detailed repair instruction.  

Wrap Up

  • Despite returning from my ride with my bike and I both needing a clean up, it was a great way to spend a midday break.  I had plans on stopping at a local coffee shop for a post ride treat but with my clothes dappled in muck I passed.  Instead I returned home and did some online research for fenders.  I have a hunch they’re a must for future springtime bike rides.

Happy Riding!