Animals Along the Jordan Creek Trail

West Des Moines has a new outdoor art installation.  It's called Surrounds and is found in five locations along the Jordan Creek Trail.  Earlier in the year residents voted for the native animals to be included.  The winners were fox, beaver, squirrel, rabbit, hawk, and owl.  

On my ride to find the brightly colored critters. I discovered the bridge just east of the I35 closed.  The sign posted was backwards indicating a slippery trail instead of a closed bridge.  I took the liberty of turning it over. The detour options are to either return to Prairie View Drive and use the southern sidewalk along EP True or to ride the grassy field through Jordan Creek Park.  I chose the field. 

To avoid spoilers I didn't take a picture of all animals.  And, I won't mention where they are all are in the event you want to go on your own hunt.  But, if you don't like surprises  or want to make sure they're all found, visit the city of West Des Moines website for locations.

Happy Riding!

 

 

 

 

 

West Des Moines, You're Lucky!

The Trail

Linking West Des Moines to the metro's central trail hub, Jordan Creek travels east to west through parkland, industrial areas, and along city streets.  Named after it's respective creek, this asphalt and concrete trail can be accessed  at several city parks and businesses.  

Trail Information

Trail Map


The Ride

Ah, how I envy residents of West Des Moines.  Especially  those with close access to the Jordan Creek Trail. Why?  They can get practically anywhere by bike (church, movie theater, groceries, restaurants, retail, school, and the library) with limited time (if any) on city streets.  

Recently I took my bicycle along to one of my son's activities. After parting ways I left the car in the parking lot and pedaled to Target for some light shopping. My ride turned out to be a lucky one for several reasons:

1. I didn't have to get off the trail at all other than navigating through a parking lot.

2.  The bike rack was easy to find with no parking hassles.

3.  Thanks to the limited amount of space for transporting purchases, I ended up spending way less than I usually do.

4.  I saw a ginormous dandelion waiting to loose it's seeds.  I would have not been able to see this piece of whimsical art had I been in the car.

5.  On the ride back I found the spoke card I had lost.  Whew!

6.  I found another Little Free Library, which is always fun.

 West DesMoines , you're lucky!  Not every city in Iowa has a trail system to help you easily "get there by bike".  And, for those of us who enjoy visiting for shopping or other activities, consider taking your bike to use to get around while there.  

Happy Riding!

 

 

 

 

 

Off to a Great Start - A Ride on the Jordan Creek Trail

The Trail

Linking West Des Moines to the metro's central trail hub Jordan Creek travels through a variety of areas ranging from parkland, industrial areas, and along city streets.  Named after it's respective creek, this asphalt and concrete trail can be accessed  at several city parks and businesses.  

Trail Information

Trail Map


The Ride

A portion of this trail had been closed for years and hearing it was open I set out to see for myself.  My ride began at Jordan Creek Park.  There's no facilities at this location but it's super handy for hopping onto the trail.

I headed west to check out the newly reopened segment of trail. Barricades had been parted allowing trail users to make their way through.  All was quiet in the former construction zone and the project looked complete despite a menagerie of construction materials waiting to be cleaned up.  

Between trail closures and mud/water/ice in various tunnels, riding the Jordan Creek trail can sometimes be problematic.  I chose not to venture further west after finding the trail approach of the 60th street tunnel covered in inches of mud.  Tough mudder I'm not!

Art on the Campus had opened by the West Des Moines Library and City Hall area.  I pedaled  over and got some culture by checking out the 13 sculptures created by Iowa artists.  My favorite was Prairie Tamer by Daniel Perry of Waterloo.  It reminded me of a weather vein and Iowa's windy days.  The art installment will be on display through the fall with each sculpture for sale.  

After admiring the art  I headed back towards the car but not without stopping at Timbuktuu Coffee Bar for a smoothie.  With a bike ride, some culture, and a healthy treat my day was off to a great start.

Happy Riding!





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A Lesson In Perspective

Jordan Creek and Walnut Creek Trails

Trail Map


Overview

  • 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.  

Considerations

  • 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.

 Sightings

  • 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.  

Treats

  • 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!


Cabin Fever Relief

Trail: Raccoon River Park, Jordan Creek

Location: West Des Moines

Starting Point: Fishing dock east of the parks entrance.


Overview

A beautiful sunny day with temperatures in the 40’s called for being outside and going on a bike ride in the snow at Raccoon River Park.

My son came along and brought The Clunker to ride.  We were curious to see if we would be able to ride the nature path surrounding Blue Heron lake.  Would it be too snowy?  Yes!  After pedaling less than ¼ of a mile we ditched the bikes.  It was such slow going, and teeth-rattling bumpy.  A small path had been packed in the snow by walkers and snow skiers, but wasn’t packed enough for our bikes.  We said ‘see ya’ to our bikes and went for a hike before heading back to the snow-free asphalt trail.

Once we reached the asphalt trail we rode through the park and then headed north on the Jordan Creek trail for a bit.  We decided to turn around where the trail meets Fuller Road.  Apparently riding The Clunker while wearing your snow gear makes you reeeelieeeeeeee tired!

Considerations

This is a great spot for taking kids out for a bike ride since there is no traffic to worry about.  With the awesome playground, beach, nature lodge, and fishing pier, there are several opportunities to have fun...even in the snow!

Sightings

After unpacking our bikes we headed off towards the trail, but first took a detour to the boat ramp where we saw footprints in the snow of an ice fisherman and the track of his sled.  We spotted him out on the ice once we rode back past the fishing pier.  He was just getting set up for a day of fishing.  

On our hike along Blue Heron we noticed how low the water line was.  We were able to walk out on the sand to a little island that normally is surrounded by water.  Deer had made the trip out there as well.  Perhaps they go to the little island to sleep at night.

Stops

No stops on this ride except for helping my travel companion off the ground after falling off his bike collapsing into the snow.  

Treats

Some hot cocoa and granola bars were waiting for us in the car for a post-ride treat.  We opened the tailgate for a spot to sit and talk while sipping our cocoa complete with whipped cream.

Wrap Up

Even though riding the nature trail didn’t pan out, we had a great time getting out in the sun and the snow on a warm winter day. Little adventures like this do a good job of fighting off cabin fever and make wintertime less daunting.  We will be sure to return this spring to loop Blue Heron.


Happy Riding!