A Lesson In Perspective

Jordan Creek and Walnut Creek Trails

Trail Map


  • The Jordan Creek Trail links West Des Moines to the trail hub in central Des Moines. Jordan Creek and Walnut Creek trails are named after respective creeks and are both asphalt trails.  Jordan Creek travels through a variety of areas ranging from parklands, industrial areas and along city streets.  Walnut Creek is a wooded trail linking the Bill Riley Trail to the Clive Greenbelt.

  • The Jordan Creek trail does not have designated trailheads.  Riders can access the trail at several city park locations.  I chose to start my ride at Crossroads Park and ride the neighborhood trail over to where it meet ups with the Jordan Creek Trail on 50th street.

  • There are some lovely portions of this trail.  However, while riding I concluded it’s not a favorite.  The rough trail along EP True, numerous street and driveway crossings, and navigating the busy intersections of EP True/Grand and 63rd Street/Lincoln are not ideal for me. Once reaching the Walnut Creek trail the ride finally became more serene.

  • Entering Ashworth park I stopped at Dr. Bob’s plaza to contemplate the ride.  I was having an “okay” time but it certainly wasn’t as enjoyable as my other spring time rides.  Instead of the usual sense of calmness my nerves had been feeling jangled.  I didn’t drink THAT much coffee earlier so what was the matter?  Rewinding the route in my head I realized what was different.  Other than pedaling around quiet Waukee neighborhoods I had not gone for an urban bike ride since February!  All the wonderful riding I’d been doing out on Iowa’s peaceful rural bike trails had left me sensitive to interacting with traffic and the noise of city life.

Soothed by the sounds of birds singing from the tree canopy above I noticed this quote from Dr. Bob on the plaza sign:  “It’s another day in paradise!”.  How true!  The words of this local hero helped me understand how you can always find a nature-filled bit of paradise even in the middle of a bustling metro area.

  • With my new perspective I left the plaza, rode past Ashworth Pool, and stopped again at the pond.  I watched  the ducks swim before turning around and heading back to West Des Moines.
  • The ride back was a different one.  Instead of seeing the urban landscape I sought out signs of mother nature.  Geese, blooming flowers, budding trees, and the laughter of kids playing at the trailside parks brought me back to the place I can always find while on my bike.  


  • Planning a bike ride such as this one provides a great opportunity to take advantage of the amenities an urban ride can provide.  There’s always a good spot to stop for a bite to eat, a park to play at, or a store to shop from.

  • Parts of the Jordan Creek trail can be tricky to navigate if there has been significant rainfall.  The conditions of the tunnel under Valley West Drive was proof of how muddy and wet it can get.

  • Be prepared to wait when using crossing signals at Grand and EP True and again at 63rd Street.

  • Trail construction continues southeast of North Valley drive.  The trail is opened but the gravel areas are rough.  I played it safe and walked my bike across.


  • West of the 50th street tunnel in West Des Moines I spied some trail art.  The red rider looked to be battling a challenging headwind.

  • At the entrance to Ashworth Park is Dr. Bob Breedlove Paradise Plaza.  Dr. Breedlove was a Des Moines physician and avid cyclists.  He was killed while competing in Race Across AMerica (RAAM) when stuck by an oncoming vehicle.  Dedicated in his memory this plaza serves cyclists as a place to meet, rest from a ride, check out a trail map, or  conduct some light bike repair with the available public work stand.

  • Ashworth Memorial Pool serves as a monument of the Ashworth family.  Having traveled to Iowa in 1851, this prominent Des Moines family donated land to the city in 1924 to preserve as a parkland.  


  • Just north of the EP True/Grand intersection is La Barista Coffee.  I made a segway off the trail to stop for coffee and a biscotti.  After ordering I took my breakfast outside and enjoyed it at one of their cafe tables.  The biscotti was fresh and flavorful and did a great job complementing my latte. 

Wrap Up

While not my favorite route, this bike ride provided an opportunity for self reflection.  With some quiet time off the bike I learned how having the right perspective can impact the quality of an urban ride.

Happy Riding!