A former railway for Chicago Great Western Railroad this trail begins at Park Ave/George Flagg Parkway in Des Moines and travels 16.5 miles to Martensdale. The asphalt trail winds through Willow Creek Golf course and under Highway 5. Tree canopy buffers wind and provides shade on a hot day. Construction projects continue to impact the trail around the Highway 5 area. Plan for slowing down for equipment and loose rock. An updated park just off the trail in Cumming provides a peaceful spot for taking a bike break. A vending machine with water and sport drinks is the newest addition.
Winter's brown might suggest boring scenery this time of year. But barren trees and dormant undergrowth play a fun role in uncovering hidden treasures along the trail. A winding creek, a birdhouse, a stairway and graffiti were all revealed. Not to be missed was a dumped couch.
The chipmunks were out and about along the trail. Also active was a team of men moving dirt south of the lean-to shelter. Looks like it will be another summer of contending with construction. A road is being extended and will cross the trail. (The Facebook trail page has the scoop.)
The little city park in Cumming has become my favorite stop. It's quiet and comfortable and a great brew-up location. I had it all to myself while I enjoyed my breakfast snack and coffee*.
I've yet to decide if I need a different method for transporting coffee gear. This trip I packed everything in a back pack and stowed it in my grocery pannier. It worked just fine. Perhaps there isn't a need for a fancy trunk rack or carradice bag but more of a want. Having either would mean more room for snacks though, and snacks are must!
*The morning brew was Buziraguhindwa from Counter Culture, purchased at Stomping Grounds in Ames.