Distance: 29.4 miles
Route Type: Trail
Surface Type: Asphalt
Cities on Route: Des Moines
Combining the 26 mile Neal Smith Trail and the 3.4 mile John Pat Dorrian Trail connected two of the most well used portions of the trail system in and around Des Moines. A safe, scenic route from Saylorville Lake near downtown Des Moines to Big Creek State Park, The Neal Smith Trail is the result of years of planning and construction.
Some sections are quite hilly, especially near Saylorville Lake, where keen observers will spot deer, muskrat, beaver and other wildlife. Popular rest stops include Saylorville Lake Visitor Center, which includes indoor displays and a butterfly garden that is one of the largest in Iowa.
The more urban John Pat Dorrian Trail surprisingly includes many natural features such as panoramic vistas of the Des Moines River, which is a habitat for a variety of birds including blue herons, white pelicans and bald eagles during the winter months. This trail follows the river and passes through the city near the Des Moines Botanical Garden, Principal Park/Sec Taylor Stadium, home of the Iowa Cubs, and Riverview Park. The journey ends downtown, unless riders want to continue on one of the many other trails along the Raccoon River.