Art and Connie's 2016 RV Adventure travel blog

East Entrance Towers on High Trestle Trail Bridge

"Cribbings" over the deck

Cribbings are lit at night

Interpretive Panel on the bridge

A View from the west end of the bridge

View over the valley

Woodward Toy and Hardware Museum

Chatting with the museum owner

Unique archway in downtown Perry

Art finds a friend in Perry

Along the Volksweg Trail in Pella

I had a big misconception about Iowa before visiting the Des Moines area. I had the silly belief that Iowa was as flat as a pancake. Ha! After cycling some of the trails here, let me tell you that Iowa is not as flat as you think.

In between the storms, we managed to squeeze in a few bike rides. Unless you are riding on a rails-to-trails path, of which there are a few in this area, you’ll find yourself cycling up and down through rolling hills that will get your heart rate up real fast.

The Sauk River Trail in Carroll, the Volksweg trail in Pella and the Neal Smith Trail in the Des Moines area are proof. These trails follow the lay of the land and I was really surprised at the terrain. My first thought was, gee, I won’t even have to change gears while cycling. NOT. Then, I found out, that there are actually hillier areas like eastern and northeastern Iowa. Whoa, who knew?

Besides these hilly rides I mentioned, we did enjoy cycling sections of two rails-to-trails paths. The High Trestle Trail is 25 miles long and is the crown jewel of this area. You cycle through the typical farmland and small towns like Madrid and Woodward. Just outside of Madrid is what I would consider the showcase of the trail – the High Trestle Bridge. The bridge is a half-mile long and crosses over the Des Moines River. The bridge is 13 stories tall with 43 steel “cribbings” that makes an arch over the deck of the bridge. The design represents the coal mining industry that was part of the area up until the early 1970s. The “cribbings” are lined with blue lights that are lit at night. Check out this cool video on riding over the bridge at night High Trestle Bridge at Night. We didn’t get to experience the nightlights but the video sure makes it look great.

The north end of the trail ends in the small town of Woodward. We cycled to the two-block downtown to see what was there and noticed the Woodward Toy and Hardware Museum. A quick stop turned into a 45 minute visit with the museum owner, Clayton Overton. When Mr. Overton retired several years ago, he turned his hardware store into a museum to house his enormous collection of toys, hardware and antiques. He is beyond an avid collection – he admitted that he is addicted to collecting and has been doing so since he was in high school. It was certainly a nice way to end the ride before heading back home.

We also cycled a section of the Raccoon River Valley Trail which is a 90 mile loop. No, we didn’t do the 90 miles. Starting in the small (360 population) town of Minburn, we cycled through more farmland to the town of Perry. This former railroad town still maintains a nice downtown with the Hotel Pattee, a boutique hotel downtown, but instead of the railroad being its main industry now, it is now is the Tyson pork packing plant. A fast moving storm cut our bike ride short but we were glad to be able to sneak in a ride again.

So, if you like to bicycle, consider checking out the Des Moines area. As you can tell, we’ve been enjoying our stay here. Now, if it would only stop raining……

Next up, a visit to downtown Des Moines – the capitol of Iowa.

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