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:

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