The Raccoon River Valley trail is one of Iowa’s premier trails. With 89 miles to ride and 15 communities to visit, it provides lots of route options for cyclists in central Iowa. Each trailside community has it’s own trailhead. Most are renovated train stations as this bike trail was once a railway. Trailside towns are less than 10 miles apart and provide good options for where to start/stop a ride or to take a break. The Raccoon River Valley Trail provides a variety of scenery ranging from open farmland to tree-lined tunnels of the wooded areas flanking rivers and creeks.
My son and I packed up the bikes and drove over to Panora so he could experience a different portion of the trail. The plan was an out-n-back ride to Linden. 12 miles has proven to be the perfect length for him at this stage in riding. This route fit the bill. With an easy stretch of trail and an ice cream shop at the trailhead how could we go wrong?
With the plush tree canopy we felt like we were riding through a tunnel. In the breaks between trees we caught glimpses of farmland and pasture.
This portion of the Raccoon has a couple of gravel road crossings that have yet to be paved. Only a few feet of gravel was enough to remind me of the luxury of smooth crossings.
What wasn't luxurious were the clouds of gnats and mosquitoes. They were out in force! We stopped for a couple of photo ops and soon regretted it.
Mulberries were ripening and dropping onto the trail leaving sticky spots to ride through. Our bikes and clothes would need a wash. Only in Iowa can you ride your bike through a puddle of jam!
All was quiet in Linden. We did spy a tiny dog on the loose enjoying it's freedom. After a short water break in the shade of the trailhead we headed back to Panora. Back through the jam, the bugs, and the beautiful trail.