Minburn - What's New

My favorite stretch of the Raccoon River Valley Trail is from Dallas Center to Minburn. It’s quiet, still pretty (aka not littered with urban construction projects) and I can typically count on hearing pheasant, quail, and other birdsong. Plus it’s nice and flat. Perfect for an easy pedal.

Minburn is a tiny town and takes only a minute or two to mosey through. Despite it’s size the community has done a lot of work to add interesting elements along the bike trail. Residents are doing a great job of being “A Small Town with a Big Heart”.

On a recent ride I took a few pictures of the latest additions:

Soon to be Dallas County’s Freedom Rock is this ginormous stone. Practically every county in Iowa has an 60+ ton boulder painted yearly by the artist Ray “Bubba” Sorensen as a way to say thank you to veterans for their service. Minburn’s American Legion is overseeing the project.


Bike breaks along the trail can now be an educational opportunity thanks to the new signs. How cool is it that you can pedal on a bit of Iowa history?


Does anyone even roller skate anymore? It was one of my favorite things to do as a kid. It was even more popular back in the ‘50’s. This metal skate pays tribute to the town’s love of skating and the musical “Singing Wheels” the community performed on wheels.


I think it’s pretty special how this tiny community has put big effort into supporting the bike trail by providing interesting things to learn and admire while passing through.

Happy Riding!

A Return to Beaver Creek

I can't remember when I last visited Beaver Creek Natural Resource Area in Johnston.  It hasn't been that long ago has it?  The surprising discovery of a huge building on the north end area and some sort of residential complex in a former prairie area proved it's been longer than I thought. 

How unfortunate that corporate/urban development had to impact such a beautiful oasis within the city.  It's hard not to get bummed seeing how this natural resource has shrunk.

Despite the changes, it's still worth a visit.  Its looping trail begs for a leisurely bike ride, walk or jog.   Beaver Creek Natural Resource Area would be a fun place to take kids for a ride.  The flat trail loops and winds around without interacting with traffic.

The nature area can be accessed via Crown Point, Terra Park, and Lew Clarkson Park.  During the evenings or weekends, the parking lots of Pioneer Campus provide easy access.

There are no facilities in this area so plan accordingly for any necessary bathroom or water breaks.  The city has several informational signs posted along the trail speaking to the prairie and wetland areas. 

Happy Riding!


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!



Pedal the Prairie - Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge

 I recently had the pleasure of riding the Iron Giant across the prairies at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge.   With beautiful weather and a conservation-oriented atmosphere it was Happy Riding at it's best.

The first annual Pedal the Prairie, hosted by Friends of the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge showcased the new bike lanes flanking Prairie Parkway.  Closed to automobile traffic, the road was comfortably busy with over 500 cyclists pedaling their way up and down hills, stopping to view bison, native wildflowers, and toss seed bombs.  All genres of cyclists participated from those fully kitted out on road bikes to kids with bells, baskets and handlebar streamers.  What a happy sight! 

My sister and I prepped for the ride with coffee outside session at Entryway Park in Prairie City. Beans from Coffee Culture and two slices of pie.  Rhubarb and Apple.  Perfect!

After fueling up we pedaled the scenic (and hilly) 5 miles to the Welcome Center where we checked out displays, received great giveaways, and had lunch.  Next was a 3 mile walk along Tall Grass Trail.  What views!

Before heading back to Prairie City we stopped at the bookstore inside the Prairie Learning Center and purchased ride t-shirts.  I also bought a Sparky the Bison shirt.   Sparky lives at the refuge and survived being struck by lightening in 2013. Check out his interesting story here.  

The return trip was a bit quieter with fewer folks on the road.  Arriving at a rather empty parking lot it appeared we were some of the last to return.  

If you missed the opportunity to participate in Pedal the Prairie, don't fret.  You can pedal anytime this summer.  Bike trails are open during daylight hours and lots of events take place at the refuge throughout the year.  Plan a visit and a pedal along the prairie.  

Happy Riding!

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!