High Trestle Trail

The High Trestle Trail in Iowa is probably best known for its iconic trestle bridge. The half mile bridge is part of a 25 mile paved trail. The bridge spans the Des Moines River between Madrid and Woodward. It is 40 meters tall, about the same height as a 13 story building.

I rode the trail in September of 2023 as part of a tour facilitated by Wilderness Voyageurs. Our small group started at one end point in Woodward, IA. The trestle is about 2.8 miles from the trailhead. If you only want to see the trestle there is closer parking about a mile away at 41.870786, -93.850060. 

If you decide to visit, don't miss the overlook (41.86629, -93.87224) on the Woodward end of the bridge (western end). We rode the entire trail during the day but I also elected to ride the bridge when we visited after sunset. The bridge is lit from sunset until 9:00 pm or midnight depending on the time of year you visit.

The progressive rotation of the frames over the bridge make for an interesting artistic flair especially at night. That being said I was a bit disappointed during the night visit since only a few of the frames were illuminated in a static blue light. For some reason I was expecting all of the frames to be lit in a more animated fashion. Not sure where that idea came from but it made a very impressive display seem a bit less so. 

Getting back to our daytime trail ride, after the trestle, we continued riding to Slater where we had a short break then diverted to the Heart of Iowa spur trail for an out and back. Once back at Slater we had a quick lunch then continued along the High Trestle Trail to the opposite end point of Ankeny, IA.

I found the trail surface to be smooth pavement with some sections concrete and other parts asphalt. 

Unlike the nearby Raccoon River Valley Trail, the High Trestle Trail does not require a pass. Organized events may require a free permit in some areas along the trail.

Learn more about the trail and bridge from these websites:

Raccoon River Valley Trail

For my first trek into Iowa I used an outfitter called Wilderness Voyageurs. Since I was flying this option afforded me a good quality rental bike, and logistics allowing one way rides and no worries about meals or lodging. The guides for our small group were Teri and Alex. One guide would follow the group to assist in the event of mechanical or other issues while the other drove ahead to set up rest/lunch stops along the ride. It made for a wonderful week. 

The first ride of the week was on the Raccoon Valley River Trail. This trail is an 89 mile loop of paved car free heaven a bit west of Des Moines, IA. It is a 2021 inductee into the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame. Most of the surface is concrete with a portion asphalt. It is the longest paved trail in the United States. A few sections of the asphalt have some bumps but the vast majority of the trail is smooth, flat and straight. Since you are in Iowa, expect to see vast fields of corn adjacent to the trail.

When I rode in September of 2023, there was a section of trail closed for bridge repair in the area of Redfield and Linden. This required bypassing about five miles of trail with an eight mile, on road detour. Also note riding the trail requires a trail pass.

The ride started in Dallas Center, IA. Since this was a vacation for our small group, we stayed overnight on the lake in Panora. The next day we completed the loop back to Dallas Center.

For more information about the Raccoon River Valley Trail including trail pass purchase see Dallas County website or the trail website. Construction has started on additional trail to connect the Raccoon River Valley Trail to the High Trestle Trail.