Morning Meaderings - Raccoon River Park

The Trail

Considered the "crown jewel" of the metro area, Raccoon River Park is home to the 3 mile crushed rock trail circling Blue Heron Lake.  Out on this trail you quickly forget you're in the city.  This quiet location and the wide limestone path is a perfect spot for kids to ride their bikes. The trail is a popular place for walkers and runners so plan for a slow relaxing ramble on the bike.

A playground, beach, nature lodge, sport complexes, and fishing pier nearby there are lots of ways families can have fun.  

Park Information


The Ride

Calling this a ride is a bit overzealous.  While there was pedaling involved, my bike merely served the purpose of toting me and breakfast around the lake.  The goal: to find a pretty spot for a picnic and bird watching.  

There wasn't much for mileage nor there was much effort, only meandering.  It was perfect!  A cool breezy morning, sunshine, a thermos full of coffee, breakfast, and birds.  What was missing was binoculars!  A pair would have come in handy to get a better view of the Mergansers fishing for their breakfast.  

I enjoy using my bike for errands and exercise.  But, my favorite way to put my bike to work is for transport to a peaceful out out of the way spot.  

Happy Riding!  

 

 

Awesome Altoona

The Trails

Greenway Park, Gay Lea Wilson, Vern Willey, and a collection of residential trails provides Altoona cyclists with fun options for getting around town.   Flat asphalt trails are in great condition and at a comfortable width.  A protected pedestrian bridge over 8th street is a safe option for crossing four lanes of busy roadway. Altoona’s trails are a fun and safe place for kids to ride.  There are spots to visit along the trail such as the public library, city ponds, gardens, and recreation complexes.  

The Greenway Park Trail winds it's way northeast past ponds and quiet backyards.  Named after the Altoona community services director and avid cyclist, the Vern Willey trail travels east/west through Prairie Heritage Park and connects to the popular Gay Lea Wilson Trail.  

Trail Map


The Ride

I love riding around this Iowa town.  Trails are in great condition and there's lots of options for a fun ride with or without kid(s).

This ride was "with kid".  Using the public library as our trailhead, we meandered around parks and neighborhoods.  Our adventure included an inaugural visit to the Enabling Gardens.  What a glorious garden!  Along with the beautiful display beds, there's plenty of treasures tucked among the plantings.  This a must-see spot in Altoona, even if you don't have a green thumb!

Altoona is not only a fun community for a leisurely bike ride, it's a good place for young anglers to cast their line into one of the small ponds.  Something tells me the kid I was with will be doing that on our next visit.

After exploring around town we headed towards Pleasant HIll on the Gay Lea Wilson.  The stretch between Altoona and NE 27th street is flat and mostly shady.  A great segment for young riders on a sunny summer day.

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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An Ames Bike Ride - What Took So Long?

Growing up outside of Nevada, Iowa I visited Ames a lot.  My favorite things to do were eating Hickory Park, playing at Brookside Park, shopping at North Grand Mall, and rollerskating at J-4 Rollerway.  One thing I never did there was ride the bike trails. 

While a student at Iowa State University there were study sessions at the Ames Public Library, lunch at Taco Time, and a part time job on campus.  But, there was never a bike ride.

True, I've pedaled around around Ada Hayden Park, but for whatever reason it took me decades to finally pull the trigger and plan a ride on the trails.  What took so long?

During a recent visit to Ames I carved out some time for a ride. Using Stewart Smith park as my trailhead, I leisurely wound my way north pedaling under Lincoln Highway over to Brookside Park.  Some interesting graffiti was painted under the 6th Street bridge.  The author certainly wasn't including me in their audience! 

Arriving at Brookside Park I checked on the old fire engine, pedaled past the ball diamonds, and admired the inuksuk created by artist Peter Irniq.  Leaving the park I continued north passing the aquatic center.  Before reaching University Village the trail took me through a protected natural area where the squirrels were scurrying and the wildflowers blooming.    After venturing over to over to Ames High I made my way back to Stewart Smith park.  But before loading the bike back into the car there was a photo op with Cy and picking up a collection of pamphlets at the ISU Welcome Center. 

Now I can say I've ridden my bike on the Ames bike trails.  Now I can say I want to do more bike riding in Ames and explore other routes their network of trails offers.  Now I can say riding my bike is one of my favorite things to do in Ames.....finally!

Happy Riding!

Trail Map

A Springtime Favorite

Washington DC has cherry trees, Pella has tulips, and Des Moines has my favorite, crabapples. Easily accessible from the Des Moines Regional Trail system, the Arie den Boer Arboretum, is my favorite springtime spot.   Located within Water Works Park  it is one of the biggest collections of crabapple trees in the world.  

Visiting the park on my bike I slowly pedaled past trees laden with delicate blossoms.  The flowery aroma was a million times better than any perfume.  I paused several times to just stare up into millions of pastel flowers and marvel at their beauty.  This is a place where I could spend hours just soaking in the colors, the scents and sunshine.  

The trees will be blooming for another week, so make plans to go.  Take a leisurely bike ride among the blossoms and enjoy the glory of spring.  

Happy Riding!