Fun on the Fourth

The Trail

The High Trestle Trail is 25 miles in length and travels through Woodward, Madrid, Slater, Sheldahl, and Ankeny.  The wide concrete trail is in fantastic condition and does not have significant grades or hills. The majority of the trail is flanked by trees. Trailheads with water and restrooms are available in Woodward and Madrid.  Parks in Slater and Ankeny can be used as locations for starting a ride.  

About 5 miles from of Ankeny is The Oasis.  It’s a trailside rest stop constructed as a memorial to a local cyclist.  With it’s shaded picnic area, water fountains, restroom and views of Iowa farmland, it’s a great spot for taking a break along the trail.  

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 one 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 overlooks on the bridge for enjoying the view of the river valley.  Educational signs are posted providing information on the bridge and habitat found in the area.

Trail Map

Trail Information


The Ride

Meeting at my sisters house in Ankeny we set out for the High Trestle Trail.  It was a beautiful July 4th, with the sunshine, temps in the 80’s and a light breeze.  Our plan was to ride to the bridge with stops in Slater and Madrid.  

Just outside of Ankeny the trail travels through a farmyard.  If you’re lucky you can get a glimpse of the bison that lives here.  If you’re even luckier, you can get a cold beverage from the vending machine tucked under the trees.  The trail was busy and a group of cyclists were taking a break at The Oasis as we passed by.

Slater was celebrating Independence Day along with their 125th birthday!  Lots of activities were going on at Nelson Park when we arrived.  Food and craft vendors were open for business, families were picnicking, and adults were relaxing under the beer tent.  We grabbed some delicious sandwiches and sides from Fabulous BBQ and headed to the beer tent. After our lunch we made our way back to the trail.  There were so many cute homes decorated for the holiday and vehicles having participated in the parade were parked along the curbs.  Riding through Earl Grimm Park we caught glimpses of folks having a great time at the pool.  Slater was certainly having a great birthday.

Flat Tire lounge is well known by central iowa cyclists.  It’s a popular pit stop as it sits only feet from the trail.   Flat Tire has a bike repair stand outside and tubes, tires and even lights for purchase at the bar. Tons of bikes were parked outside!  I always enjoy looking at what others ride and how they personalize their bikes.  Another group out celebrating the holiday with a bike ride had decorated their steeds in red-white-and-blue.  

The last time I was on the bridge was back in March.  Then, shallow waters of the Des Moines Rivers traveled in a narrow path in between the banks.  This visit was a different story!  The 13 story high bridge didn't seem so high with the water at it’s highest levels in years.  

Back in Ankeny we visited Firetrucker Brewing.  The new trailside brewery just opened and we were excited to try their beer and see how the former fire station had been renovated.  It didn’t disappoint.  “Beer is art” at this brewery and their taproom complements their philosophy with beautiful displays of paintings from Ben Schuh.  The five kinds of hops used to create the First Responded Red Ale made it a perfect match for me.   

The High Trestle Trail continues to be my favorite trail to ride in Iowa.  Beautiful views, smooth concrete and beer just off the trail make a fantastic combination.

Happy Riding!