New Discoveries Along the High Trestle Trail

The High Trestle Trail is one of my favorite trails to ride.  However, weekends usually result in it being too busy for my taste.   I took a gamble on gloomy weather keeping most folks away and chose this trail to kick off participating in another 30 Days of Biking.   It had been a while since I rode here and I discovered some new features along the trail.  

Leaving Woodward I noted the new sharing library in the design of a train car.  The majority of free libraries I come upon have mostly children's books but this had a good variety.  

Reaching the bridge I had it all to myself for a while.  One of the perks of being out on a gloomy morning.  I heard geese, chorus frogs, and even a pheasant.  Remembering I had binoculars with me I tried to spot him, but didn't have any luck.  

Approaching Madrid I couldn't miss seeing the new "on/off ramp" providing an additional way to get from the trail to local businesses.   Outside Flat Tire Lounge, I noticed their own sign pointing the direction and mileage to typical trail stops. 

Greg over at Gravelo has been working on what he's calling a renegade project contributing a bench to the trail.  I was excited to find it.  Made with former railroad materials It's coming along nicely.  It's pretty cool to see people leaving something behind along the trail and it not being trash.  

The Ballard Bombers were playing the Valley Tigers at the ballfield when I arrived at Earl Grimm Park.  I watched the game for a while and ate the sandwich I had brought along.   Can't beat a Saturday that includes bike riding, baseball, and new discoveries.

Happy Riding!



Tailwinds First on the High Trestle Trail

The Trail

The High Trestle Trail is 25 miles in length and travels through Woodward, Madrid, Slater, Sheldahl, and Ankeny.  It’s my favorite place to ride thanks to the smooth concrete trail with minimal grades.  Wide shoulders and benches along the trail give riders opportunities to take advantage of the beautiful scenery. Trailheads with water and restrooms are available in Woodward and Madrid.  Parks in Slater and Ankeny can be used as locations for starting a ride. West of Madrid riders pass under a wooden bridge and two tunnels.  One of the tunnels has some can’t-miss art work.

The highlight of this trail is the half mile bridge.  Crossing the Des Moines River it is a 13 story high work of art.  The design of the bridge pays tribute to the coal mining industry that once thrived in the area.  The spiraling steel frames represent the supports used in coal mines.  Giant towers with designs depicting veins of coal found in limestone greet those about to cross. Bridge overlook areas provide spots for taking in the view of the river valley or reading the education signs posted.  At night the bridge is illuminated with LED lights.

Trail Map

Trail Information

The Ride

Thankfully this ride didn't begin with me getting trapped inside the restroom.  Read about that embarrassing episode here.  I started my bike ride at the Woodward trailhead with plans to ride to Slater.  

A few days back I had read how the Hotel Patee would be relocating the Frontier Shack to Madrid.  Passing through town I found it's new home next to the Flat Tire Lounge. Once it is open for business, this stopping point along the trail is going to be even more popular.  I can't wait to take advantage of it. 

The Iowa winds were blowing...again...helping me reach top speeds on my way to Slater.  I was feeling "roadie fast" but dreading the return trip.  It was not going to be fun.  

Reaching Slater I spent some time riding around town.  First, I checked out the stretch of the Heart of Iowa Nature Trail on the north side of town.  It was in rough shape from folks having walked, biked, and even snowmobiled on it when wet.  

I had packed myself a pb&j to eat in Slater and stopped by Town & Country Market to grab something to drink.  I chose Jenna's Awesome Chocolate Milk from Picket Fence Creamery and then rode over to Earl Grimm Park.   I ate my sandwich and enjoyed the awesome chocolate milk while soaking up the sunshine.   

After delaying the inevitable as long as possible, it was time to face the headwinds and pedal back to Woodward.  The ride back wasn't as bad as anticipated but it certainly wasn't much fun.  Chugging along I realized headwinds and tailwinds have their dinner time analogies. Headwinds are the veggies and tailwinds are dessert.  Headwinds make you stronger and tailwinds are a special treat to be saved for last. Next time I'm "eating my veggies" first. 

Happy Riding!

Riding Past The Oasis

Trail: High Trestle Trail

Location: Ankeny to Slater

Ride Length:  Long

Surface:  Asphalt

Terrain:  Flat with a grade going into Sheldahl

Date:    4-15-2014

Time:    10:30

Weather: 30’s/Breezy/Sunny

Starting Point: Ankeny Public Library

Ride Map 

Trail Map

Trail Information


  • The High Trestle Trail is 25 miles in length.  The wide concrete trail is in fantastic condition and travels through Woodward, Madrid, Slater, Sheldahl, and Ankeny.  The trail portion traveling east to west is the most popular segment with the artistic High Trestle Bridge.

  • With most trailhead facilities not yet open for the season I chose to start my ride at the Ankeny Public Library located at 1210 NW Prairie Ridge Drive.  After crossing the street to the trail I headed north with the town of Slater as my destination.

  • About 5 miles from of Ankeny is The Oasis.  It’s a trailside rest stop constructed as a memorial to a local cyclist.  With it’s shaded picnic area, water fountains, restroom and views of Iowa farmland, it’s a great spot for taking a break along the trail.  

  • Several concrete bridges cross streams while trees flank the trail north of Ankeny.  The segment past The Oasis is more out in the open with NW 58th Street running parallel to the trail.

  • On previous rides out of Ankeny The Oasis was my turn around spot, but not this time.  After making a quick pit stop I continued my ride towards Slater curious to explore this segment of trail.

  • Reaching Slater I took my break at Earl Grimm Park. Ball fields, tennis courts, horseshoe pits,and  picnic areas provide lots of opportunities to have fun. I took a snack break, soaked up some sun, and then headed back to Ankeny.


  • There are multiple highway intersections to cross.  Slow down and be sure to get a good look for oncoming traffic.  Motorists seem to travel faster on these highways so be on the alert.

  • This stretch of the High Trestle is ideal for recreational or fitness riding.  With their park, ice cream shop, and restaurants, Slater is a good community for a destination ride from Ankeny. The Oasis is also a good destination for young or beginning cyclists.


  • Earl Grimm Park and The Oasis were stopping points on this ride.  


  • Entering the trail in Ankeny I spotted a happy looking tree trunk that had been yarn bombed.

  • Just across NW 18th street a trailside memorial is dedicated to a former Ankeny resident.  The weathervane on top of the picnic area caught my eye along with a forgotten helmet next to the picnic table.  

  • A trail tattoo communicating peace, love and happiness was spray painted on the asphalt.

  • A slice of train track serves as an artistic bike rack at The Oasis.

  • Greenhouses from Central Iowa Floral are along the trail in Sheldahl.

  • Through the trees on the outskirts of Sheldahl I saw an old church.  Later I learned it is the First Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church and is on the National Register of Historic Places.  I also learned that this tiny community of 300 people sits on three different Iowa counties; Polk, Story, and Boone.  Polk County is the controlling county.  

  • The park in Slater has some “vintage” playground toys you don’t see much of anymore.  

  • I found a tennis ball to add to my growing list of stuff found on bike rides.

  • Along the High Trestle Trail you’ll find signs indicating how many steps it is to the next community.  They also include inspirational quotes.  I couldn’t help but wonder what the quote might have read had Charles been a cyclist.


  • In Slater I had a mini picnic with a PB&J.  Nothing fancy but when is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich not good?

  • I use my Tupperware Sandwich Keeper quite a bit on rides.  It keeps snacks safe from being smashed in my bike bag.

Wrap Up

I was so pleased to have finally witnessed what is beyond The Oasis.  Hopefully this season I’ll be able to ride the trail in it’s entirety instead of in segments.  Now that would be a great Iowa bike ride!

Happy Riding!