Built in 1987, this twenty-six mile route is only minutes from the Des Moines metro. It travels through several small communities, forested corridor, and open farmland. The converted rail-trail has minimal grades. It is mostly asphalt, changing to crushed gravel outside of Mingo and a new concrete link from Bondurant to Berwick.
The new trail segment connecting was officially open. Time for a ride! I chose to use Mally's Park as my trailhead. This quiet spot was donated by the Mally family and has ample parking, a picnic shelter, and restrooms. There isn't a direct connection to the trail from inside the park so I rode back out the driveway to NE Berwick Drive and caught up with the trail.
Just up the trail from Berwick is Griffs Valley View RV Park. The horse statue at the park entrance is sure to become a popular photo op for those out for a bike ride. With over 140 places to camp, pond fishing, and now easy access to the Chichaqua Valley Trail, there's lots of ways for having a relaxing time at the park.
Heading towards Bondurant, the new trail segment travels thorough open farmland. While it runs flat, Iowa's wind will be sure to make an appearance and provide it's own challenge.
The beautifully restored depot greeted me as I reached Bondurant. It's one of the prettiest trailheads I've seen. A antique clock reminded me of the time while a railway sign in the picnic area provided a reminder of the trail's origin. I took a quick pit stop before heading out of town to the "original" trail.
Arriving at the trailhead location on NE 88th Street, the trail changes to asphalt. This link of the Chichaqua is the most scenic. The Sweet William was blooming in the Woodcock Wildlife area. It was so pretty! And the greens! So many shades of green in the emerging leaves of the tree canopy.
My turn around spot for the ride was the tiny town of Valeria. This little community has an interesting background. A romance bloomed between a farmer’s daughter (Edna Valeria) and a railroad engineer. Edna convinced her father to allow the new railroad to cross their land. He agreed as long as the depot would be named after their family. Valeria was born.
On the way back through Bondurant I took a detour off the trail to grab a snack at Brick Street Market and Cafe. It's a lovely grocery store with a diner style restaurant, deli, espresso drinks, and a patio outside to enjoy a beautiful day.
With the new addition of the Chichaqua Valley Trail there are even more options for bike riding in central Iowa. Just south of Berwick cyclists have the choice of either riding to Ankeny to connect up with the High Trestle Trail, Neal Smith Trail or Heart of Iowa Nature Trail. Another available option is to pedal to Pleasant Hill or Altoona. What a perfect example of how a relatively small extension of trail can have such a huge impact.