Scenic 6-Pack of Iowa Towns
This route was scouted by: Steve Falck, Team Elvira
Madison and Warren Counties
Length: 54 miles
Surface: Paved Roads and Trails
Parking and Restrooms: Great Western Trail, Cumming
Beginning and ending at the Great Western Trailhead in Cumming, this hilly and scenic route passes through six Iowa communities, one winery and craft beer brewery, and the oldest covered bridge in historic Madison County. The trailhead is on the western edge of Cumming along the Great Western Trail. Head west on G4R and pedal 21 miles through rolling hills to the T-intersection of G4R and 169. Turn south for the final 2 miles to Winterset. Caution: Hwy 169 traffic can be heavy at peak commute times.
Several charming cafes and taverns ring the Madison County Courthouse square; you can’t leave town hungry. Winterset is also the birthplace of John Wayne. Head south on P71 for approximately 1.5 miles and turn east on G50. Feast on rolling hills and scenic valleys for 11 miles until the Madison County Winery & Twisted Vine Brewery. Continue east on G50, past Hanley (three streets) for about 3 miles to St. Charles, home of the oldest covered bridge in Madison County. Walk the full length of the 81-foot-long, 1870 Imes Covered Bridge. Another 4 miles brings you to the T-intersection with R45; turn north to St. Marys. Stay on R45 to the next T-intersection with Hwy 92, turn left and ride into Martensdale. While there, make a quick stop at the Roadside Inn’s sports bar and café. Take Iowa Avenue west to the edge of town and head north on the trail for the final 9 miles back to Cumming. Be sure to visit The Cumming Tap, the local biking community’s long-time favorite small-town tavern.
Steve is a senior policy advocate for the Environmental Law and Policy Center and has been associated with state government for 15 years. Steve has been biking central Iowa since moving to Des Moines in 2001 (bike commutes nearly every day) and enjoys any activity that takes place outside in all seasons—biking, running, paddle boarding, snowshoe running, and Mahjong (for something to do inside). The “Scenic 6-Pack of Towns” is his favorite RAGBRAI training route. He also helps organize a Tweed Ride every fall in Des Moines.