High Trestle Bridge via Gravel

This route was scouted by: Dave Mable, Editor, Iowa Momentum Endurance Sports Magazine

Dallas County
Length: 47 miles
Surface: Mostly Gravel
Parking: Webster Elementary School, Urbandale

It’s no accident that the High Trestle Trail is grabbing a lot of attention from cyclists. It’s a spectacular view 130 feet above the Des Moines River—and a treat for eyes at night. Photo: Kelly Green

This relatively flat round-trip gravel road ride leads riders from the heart of suburbia to a vast scenic vista with not a building in sight.

The High Trestle Trail bridge, 130 feet above the Des Moines River, is currently the longest bike/walk bridge in the US. It’s a magnificent structure.

Leaving from Webster Elementary School in Urbandale, a mile of pavement leads to the first section of gravel at Meredith Dr. and Y Ave. As you continue north, you will be lead down to the Beaver Creek Valley. Turning north on Xavier Ave. takes you through a flood plain on the washed out road. The quiet backwater ponds that surround the road are teeming with wildlife. The road has been closed for several years, but is passable by bicycle. It can be muddy after a rain. After a quick stop in Granger to refuel at Casey’s, continue north, through town, on Xavier and wind north and west for six miles. A right turn on 145th Lane leads you down into the Des Moines River Valley and onto a narrow gravel road that has a north woods feel about it. A detour to a boat ramp, at the very north east corner of this road, brings the High Trestle Bridge into full view. A stiff climb out of the river valley and a few miles of gravel takes riders to the High Trestle Trail. About ½ mile after turning right onto the trail, the buttresses that mark the entrance to the bridge begin to come into view. Be sure to stop at the overlook on the west side of the bridge as you marvel at the work of art that connects the west side of the river to the east.

For an extra special treat, strap on your lights and try this ride at night to see how beautifully the bridge is lit. Afterwards, head two miles west for pizza and beer at Mr. C’s in Woodward.

Ride along with a group of Des Moines-area cyclists on an evening ride to the High Trestle Trail bridge with a  slightly different return trip.

Where to stay: Two Bears Lodge (twobearslodge@mchsi.com, 515-795-3880); Butler House on Grand (515-255-4096); The 1900 Inn (877-577-0149).

Download High Trestle Bridge via Gravel PDF Map



Meet your route scout: Dave Mable, Editor, Iowa Momentum Endurance Sports Magazine

Dave Mable, and his wife, Dee, publish Iowa Momentum, a monthly magazine covering Iowa events and athletes and promoting an active lifestyle. Dave and Dee enjoy the gravel roads in central Iowa in every season. “Gravel roads are quiet and scenic. The drivers of the few cars that do pass often wave with all five fingers. Hills were not bulldozed in the making of gravel roads, so expect some steep climbs as you wind in and out of river and creek valleys. Badger Creek and High Trestle Trail by Gravel are our favorites.”

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

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