Season Opener

Trail: Raccoon River Valley Trail

Location: Redfield to Panora

Ride Length:  Long

Surface:  Asphalt and concrete

Terrain: Flat with slight grades

Date:    3-29-2014

Time:    1:00

Weather: 40’s/Sunny/Breezy

Starting Point: Trailhead in Redfield

Ride Map

Trail Map

Trail Resources


Overview

  • It was the official opening day for trails across the United States and the Iowa weather was encouraging folks to get out and celebrate.  I drove west to Redfield to ride the remaining south/southwest corner of the Raccoon River Valley Trail.  

  • At the Redfield trailhead is a restored train depot.  Facilities are open May through September.  It was quiet there with no other cyclists about.  I unloaded the Iron Giant and headed west on the trail with the intention of riding for for an hour and returning to Redfield.

  • The majority of this route travels through wooded areas.  It’s a favorite for cyclists during the summers providing cool relief on a hot day.  

  • The trail wasn’t very busy.  The majority of riders were from towns along the trails.  A group of kids just outside of Linden, a father with his boys, and a couple enjoying the trail on their recumbent bikes south of Panora.  

  • The Dallas/Guthrie county line is not far outside of Linden and is designated with a welcome sign.  At the next gravel road intersection the path changes from asphalt to concrete.

  • Northwest of Linden my watch said it was time to turn around.  Ignoring it I pedaled on towards Panora deciding it would be my turnaround spot.

  • A cool thing happened where the trail intersects with Yellow Ave.  The odometer on the the Iron Giant reached 1,000 miles!  

  • The Guthrie county side of this route becomes more open with glimpses of farm fields and grasses flanking the trail.

  • My turnaround location was the Panora trailhead.  It isn't fancy but is conveniently located next to PJ’s Drive In.

Considerations

  • Riding through forested areas can be a tricky combination of keeping an eye out for tree debris on the trail and enjoying the scenery.

  • Trees flanking the trails results in bumps and dips from roots making their way under the asphalt.  I was caught by surprise by with a big jolt from a bump I didn’t see because of the shadows on the trail.   Ugh! That’s a feeling I hate!

  • Riders get to contend with loose gravel at the multiple gravel road intersections. I got a little wobbly on one of them and wondered if maybe I should free my feet before crossing these types of intersections.  

Stops

  • I took a short break in Linden to check out their trailhead and a longer one on the bridge crossing Mosquito Creek.  There I enjoyed the sounds of the cardinals calling to each other while I ate a small snack.

Sightings

  • On this route you can see a Raccoon from the Raccoon..the Middle Raccoon River that is.  There’s a good spot to pull off the trail and take some pictures of the river as it winds it’s way to meet the Raccoon River south of Redfield.

  • The water tower in Linden is a rare sight.  Not many towns have this style of towers anymore.  

  • Bluebird houses can be seen along the more open portion of the trail.  

  • If it wasn’t for the leafless trees I would have missed spotting an old wooden bridge covered in moss and fallen leaves.  I suspect a farmer constructed it in the past to help get equipment across the creek.

  • A tree trunk sporting some Artist’s Conk (shelf mushrooms) caught my eye.  

Treats

  • I brought along DIY Nutterbutters (aka graham crackers and peanut butter).  With a new rear rack installed on the Iron Giant I realized it can serve as little table. How quaint!

Wrap Up

This ride is just one of many I’ll be taking on the Raccoon River Valley Trail. Opening day for the trails couldn’t have been much better!  

Happy Riding!