Celebrating Spring

Trail: High Trestle

Location: Woodward to Madrid

Ride Length:  Moderate

Surface:  Concrete

Terrain:  Flat with a slight grade west of  the bridge.

Date:    3-20-2014

Time:    11:00

Weather: 40’s/Sunny/Light Breeze

Starting Point: Trailhead in Woodward

Ride Map

Trail Map

Trail Information


  • My son and I chose to celebrate the first day of spring on the bike trail breaking in his new bicycle, enjoying the sunshine, and warmer weather.  

  • We chose to ride the High Trestle Trail.  It’s a 25 mile route connecting the towns of Woodward, Madrid, Slater, Sheldahl, and Ankeny.  It’s my favorite place to ride thanks to the smooth trail with minimal grades.  The wide shoulders and multiple benches along the trail give riders opportunities to take advantage of the beautiful scenery.  Trailheads with parking, water, and restrooms are available in each town.  The highlight of the trail is crossing the ½ mile, 13 story high bridge.

  • Our ride started at the Woodward trailhead.  Facilities were closed but we admired the coal cart parked outside the former train station.  It’s hard to imagine what life was like in Iowa communities back when they were coal mining towns.

  • We headed east on the trail with Madrid as our destination.  Our plan was to grab lunch at a local restaurant before returning back to Woodward.


  • Lots of people choose to visit  the bridge and this day was no acception.  Cyclists should plan on taking it slow when crossing the bridge and keep an eye out for pedestrians.  

  • This 11 mile out-in-back route is perfect for beginning riders to get acclimated with riding the trails.

  • This portion of trail has 2 gravel road intersections.  Slow down and look for cars before crossing.

  • When visiting the trail during the colder seasons be prepared to find necessary facilities at local businesses.  Trailhead restrooms and water fountains are usually closed until mid April.

  • Trail construction just east of Madrid required us to dismount and walk our bikes over a plywood path.  


  • Because it was such a beautiful day we were in no hurry for our adventure to end. We took advantage of a scenic spot and sat and enjoyed the view.  We could even hear the church bells ringing in the noon hour in Madrid.  

  • For lunch we chose to visit the Town and Country cafe.  It’s the quintessential cafe complete with a lunch counter and is only open for breakfast and lunch.

  • Our ride included two stops at the bridge to take in the views.


  • Who’d think crossing a bridge could be so educational!   Multiple educational signs are posted at various points along the bridge’s path.  We stopped to learn how challenging crossing the Des Moines River Valley was before a bridge was constructed.

  • The majority of ice had melted on the river down below us.

  • Dried grasses flanking the trail swayed in the gentle breeze and last season’s cattails stood in marshy spot soon to be filled with frogs and Red-winged Blackbirds.

  • Approaching the cafe in Madrid we saw other cyclists were grabbing some lunch.  A pair of Electra Royal’s and a John Deere cruiser were parked out front waiting for their riders to return.

  • On the return trip we took advantage of the overlook spots on the bridge and got an appreciation of how high 13 stories are.  We were much higher than the cars crossing the highway bridge.  


  • At the Town and Country Cafe we each ordered a cheeseburger and fries.  They hit the spot. We discussed planning an early morning ride so we could return to try their breakfast.

Wrap Up

  • It was another great experience out on the High Trestle Trail.  Great sights, great food, and great company.  The trifecta of trail riding!   

Happy Riding!