Distance: 55.7 miles
Route Type: Trail
Surface Type: Asphalt, Concrete
Enjoy a pleasant suburban ride through Des Moines, Ankeny, Berwick, Pleasant Hill and Altoona as you cruise down the Gay Lea Wilson Trail. Named for a local trail advocate who first came up with the idea of a trail network in Polk County in the ‘80s, the Gay Lea Wilson trail includes small communities as well as wide open spaces.
The northern trailhead is located in Ankeny, where there is also access to the Neal Smith Trail as well as the Oralabor Gateway Trail, providing a trail hub with access to Saylorville Lake. The Gay Lea Wilson trail, as it winds south, traverses rural roads and suburban neighborhood alike. There are plenty of benches for bird watching and resting along the route.
Safely passing under I-80, riders are then enveloped by quiet, dense wooded areas with occasional unpaved patches on the trail, following a creek that eventually leads to Copper Creek Lake, which the trail circles around. At the south end, you’ll find a playground, water fountains, picnic areas, restrooms and parking. If you haven’t brought a picnic, just a short trip east gives you an abundance of local food choices.
Continuing on to Altoona, the trailhead ends at the Greater Altoona Community Service Campus, which has several public facilities.
Cities on Route: