Hilly 40

This route was scouted by: Joe Robinson, Team Hoochiepuckers

Polk County
Length: 40 Miles
Surface: Paved Roads and Trail
Parking and Restrooms: Chichaqua Valley Trail

Low-traffic county roads like this road south of Mitchellville make for great cycling adventures. Photo: Joe Robinson

Call it hills, or call it hellish hills, this is a great training ride with a splendid mix of scenery. This 40-miler on the east side of the Des Moines metro area bundles suburban cities, small towns, and countryside on Central Iowa’s network of hard-surface trails and low-volume county roads. Make refueling or restroom stops at one of six Casey’s stores on the loop.

Beginning at the Chichaqua Valley Trailhead east of Bondurant, head east on the pancake-flat rail-to-trail conversion, then turn south onto rolling Polk County roads. South of Mitchellville, stay alert for auto traffic on about .5 mile of old Hwy 6. Then jump back onto paved two-lane roads to enjoy more rural settings. At south edge of Pleasant Hill, shift to your granny gear before heading up Hickory Boulevard – it’s a quad-burner. For a nice lunch or dinner, tack on a .5 mile leg west on asphalt trail to Copper Creek on the edge of Pleasant Hill (Okoboji Grill or Legends American Grill are excellent).

Side trip: Yellow Banks Park is a hidden gem.

Where to stay: Butler House on Grand (515-255-4096); The 1900 Inn (877-577-0149)

Download Hilly 40 PDF Map



Meet your route scout: Joe Robinson, Team Hoochiepuckers

I started riding in 1975 with John Gooding to see if we could do this thing called RAGBRAI III. I had a Kmart bike and John rode a Schwin Varsity with fenders (43 pounds). By 1978, we upgrades to top tier bikes. Back then you could buy the best bike on the market for $500, and I still have my Albert Eisentraut custom. Later, I jumped into triathlons and adventure races that included biking. It’s fun to compete and give everything you can and see what your made of! I always learn a lot about myself in those situations—and I liked the competitors. I have been blessed to have a family that also took part in those events, so there was always plenty of competition—even from my sons. That made hard training easier because my boys were always pushing. Now I ride fewer miles and certainly not as fast (because I can’t). I call them Casey’s rides: Stop at each town that has a Casey’s General Store. Sometimes that’s not very far, and that’s ok. It’s still fun.

In 2015 your financial support made possible:

More than 350 bicycles and helmets were donated to children in need by partnering with community nonprofits and public schools.

With over 6,000 trips and four new stations, Des Moines BCycle has more than doubled the number of rides over last year.

Thousands of donated tubes, tires, frames and other bike parts were kept out of overburdened landfills.

Our community workspace is now open to the public six days a week – including Sundays!

Over 2,000 people visited the Collective and learned something about keeping their bicycles working properly.