High Trestle Trail

Distance: 32.5 miles
Elevation: 596′
Route Type: Trail
Surface Type: Asphalt, Concrete
Cities on Route: AnkenyMadrid, Slater, Woodward

High Trestle Trail is one of the most popular trails in Iowa – even for night riders. The main attraction is the 130 foot tall High Trestle Bridge, boasting the most well known rail trail art installation in the United States named From Here to There. The bridge is wrapped in 43 diamond shapes steel ribs that are illuminated with LED lights. Riders say it’s like riding down a mine shaft, which could be in honor of the coal mining history the area is known for.

At any rate, the High Trestle Trail is not to be missed for cycle enthusiasts. The best starting point is the east end in Ankeny but since this is an out-and-back trail, riders can start anywhere they like. In Ankeny, however, there is ample parking near the city’s sports complexes as well as bathroom and drinking water facilities. For a fun starting point, try the Firetrucker Brewery, located in an old firehouse. Alternatively, we’ve created the route beginning at Boulders Inn and Suites in Polk City. Wherever you start, take a look for the Oasis and make one more pit stop before you really get going. Take advantage of the available water, restrooms and covered seating.

The next stopping points along the route are Sheldahl and Slater. We recommend the Night Hawk in Slater, which has a nice outdoor patio along the trail and the food is great, too! But don’t get too comfortable; there are still seven miles to Madrid, where you’ll find many great stops along the trail such as the Flat Tire Lounge.

And now for the moment you’ve waited for; the High Trestle Bridge. Take your time and enjoy the views after you find the overlook point located on the west side of the bridge. For a unique experience, try this section of the trail at night, where the bridge is lit up until 11 p.m.. There are frequent organized “full moon” rides, but you should have a working light on your bicycle and keep an eye out for pedestrians.

Then it’s on to Woodward, where the Whistlin’ Donkey is ready to welcome you from the trail just a half block north of the trail head itself.

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