UPDATE 6-2012 : For more information on this trail, I found this great article here!
The High Trestle paved bike trail was a huge hit with hubby and I when we finally managed to make it there over Labor Day weekend. This is a new trail as of Spring 2011, and I think it will fast become one of the places to see when visiting Iowa! One end of it is in Ankeny, Iowa, and the other end is Woodward, Iowa, which makes for around a 22-mile ride one way. However, there are many towns along it that you can join in the fun if you don’t want so many miles.
Since the famous bridge that everyone wants to see is between Woodward and Madrid, we decided to start at Madrid. If you want to be like us and start at Madrid, you follow the Highway 210 signs and the bike path and parking is right off that. It is about 2.8 miles to the bridge from there, or for a shorter walk, you could look for the gravel road west of Madrid called QN or QM that has parking and porta-pots and is only a mile to the bridge.
As you can see in the above picture, there is a lounge and outside grill (to the left of the lounge) at the trailhead in Madrid. The trail runs right in front of it. You can see how popular it is by the number of bikes parked outside here and in the below picture. Make sure you go inside the Flat Tire Lounge and see the decor. I found the cement bar that has a bit of mosaic in it very unique. Parking is all along the trail here.
Next time we go on it, though, we are going to start at Slater so it will make for more of a ride. Slater, by the way, is where the Iowa Heart trail ends so you can connect up to it and go to Collins, Iowa, if you don’t mind limestone and want a long trip. I figure for me 7 additional miles will be plenty (14 miles round trip), and by starting in Slater I will have two chances to stop at the Flat Tire if I need a break from riding, once on the way out and once on the way back!
Once again I am rambling (you can see food is important to me) so on to the main attraction! We headed off on the trail towards Woodward enjoying the prairie feel although the trail itself was pretty crowded. As we approached the bridge, we could see two pillars jutting into the air on each side of the trail so I quickly snapped a shot of it. Unfortunately we were a bit too far away from them for you to really appreciate their beauty as they had blue mosaic stone wrapping around the pillars in a spiral.
The High Trestle Bridge is a 1/2 mile bridge, 13 stories high, perching you on top of the Des Moines River Valley. It was very windy the day we went, so just a word of warning if you go when it’s cool, that you might want to bring a wind breaker along. The bridge was an old trestle train bridge, and I love how an artist designed the bridge with the trestles wrapped around it to form an open-air tunnel!!
There are placards explaining what you are looking at and places to actually sit on the bridge without stopping the flow of human traffic.
Since it was Labor Day weekend it was very busy and lots of families out enjoying the most beautiful day! Here are some pictures of the view from the bridge.
You can see that the water is really down right now. I bet this whole valley fills up in the springtime. As you can see, the views were just gorgeous with everything so green since the water was down and not covering it up. I just felt like how a hawk must feel only I wasn’t getting to glide around on the air currents per se, just buffeted by them.
At the Woodward side of the bridge there is an observation platform on the old 1912 bridge abutment that also has some signs on it explaining how it used to look.
After stopping a lot and exploring the bridge, we went on to Woodward, Iowa, which has a nice park area with toilets, picnic benches, and parking area.
We turned around and rode back to our vehicle. Then we grabbed a drink and yummy meal at the aforementioned outside grill when we were all finished. Hubby had the grilled sirloin sandwich, and I had an Italian Sausage sandwich hot off the grill! Definitely a good ending for this adventure!