Heart of Nature, Heart of Iowa

This route was scouted by: Lisa Hein, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation

Story County
Length: 33 miles
Surface: Paved Roads
Parking and Restrooms: River Valley Park

Start your ride out of Ames following sidepaths on East 13th Street and Dayton Avenue to East Lincoln Way (old Lincoln Highway) to Nevada. Lincolnway bike lanes on the road make this leg easy. Sixth Street in Nevada (pronounced “Ne-VAY-dah”) has two great stops for breakfast at the Snack Time Restaurant or lunch at Mi Casita across the street. Continue a few blocks south to I Avenue and turn west. I Avenue becomes S14. At the south edge of town use caution to cross busy Hwy 30. Stay on S14 for about 7.5 miles, then west on E63. In four miles you cross the Skunk River to reach Cambridge. The Water Street Bar and Grille one block south of E63 is the stop-off point in town.

If you want to get off the county roads for a while to enjoy more wildlife and scenery, stay on S14 for 1.5 miles, take the Heart of Iowa Nature Trail (compacted limestone surface) west to Slater (7 miles), then hop on the bike lanes on R38 back to Ames. Otherwise, from Water Street in Cambridge go back to E63 and turn west. In about 6 blocks, turn north on Park Street, which becomes 580th. Soak up the views of the Skunk River Valley as the road leads you back to Lincoln Way.

Side trips: Iowa State University, Reiman Gardens draws steady crowds year-round.

Where to stay: MonteBello B&B Inn ( 515-296-2181).

Download Heart Of Nature, Heart of Iowa PDF Map



Meet your route scout: Lisa Hein, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation

I enjoy bicycling for the fresh air, scenic views and friendships found. My riding style is more like a ‘weekend sightseer’ than ‘weekend warrior.’ The route selected is easily accessible from east Ames, it has gentle views of the Skunk River Valley, and my friends Jeri Neal and Jen Garst are always fun riding companions. In addition to my land conservation and rails-to-trails work at the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, I support bicycling activities as a board member of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition. I value bicycling because it is a mode of transportation available to a broader diversity of ages and capabilities than the automobile. I believe our transportation corridors need to provide mobility options for all people—instead of just being habitat for cars.

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.