Last Sunday we finally made our way to the High Trestle Trail in Iowa. We started in Woodward, Iowa, which is about a 30 minute drive from Des Moines. We drove up after breakfast, fully loaded with snacks, water bottles, and the orange bike sticking out on either side of our car rack like an large orange dragon. We parked in the High Trestle Trail parking lot and promptly realized we left the entire diaper bag at home. So, off we road to a local gas station that was teeming with coffee sipping cyclists. It’s amazing to see what a bike trail can do for small communities. The best part – we were banking on lighter crowds due to the start of RAGBRAI.
It is an easy 3 mile ride from Woodward to “The Bridge,” as it is dubbed. The High Trestle Trail Bridge is a 13-story, 1/2 mile long bridge that was formerly a railroad bridge. There are outlooks along the bridge that spans the Des Moines River, with informative signs detailing items such as river wildlife and cultural features. There are 41 steel frames over the bridge which are meant to represent the frames used in historic coal mines. The pillars at either end of the bridge have ceramic tiles created to look like coal veins.
I love taking this bike out – everywhere we go we get compliment and questions. I think most people just assume that a bike trailer is the only way to ride with kids. We used a bike trailer at first, but once we found out #2 was on the way, we started to explore other options. We have discovered that a cargo bike is more enjoyable for adults and kids alike for a few reasons: A. it is lighter and easier to turn on a fully loaded cargo bike than you’d think. B. The cargo bikes can be configured in a variety of ways to suit your family. C. Kid passengers are not enclosed in a hot trailer, stuck in a reclining position, but are able to sit up and interact just as the adult cyclists are able to.
We bought our cargo bike from REI, but check around your area for dealers. Even if you are not in the market for a cargo bike, I highly recommend the Yepp Bicycle Seat as an alternative to a trailer. They can be used on regular bikes as well.
We stopped at an overlook for a selfie. Yay for not being on RAGBRAI this year, and enjoying this inaugural ride with fantastic Iowa countryside views. As you can see, the bridge is deserted! It was not this empty on our return ride after noon, though.
The verdant valley with the Des Moines River. Lots of rain = a very green Iowa this year!
The pillars at the far end of the bridge. We are heading on toward Madrid, Iowa (not pronounced like Madrid, Spain).
We found a great lunch spot in Madrid. The kids split grilled cheese, fruit, and mac and cheese. As my daughter said, “It is so good, it tastes like candy.” There you have it, a strong endorsement from a 4-year old.
Saddles BBQ Bistro was the perfect mid-ride stop. The kids were happy with their meal and Eric and I enjoyed our wrap and tacos immensely. Madrid was a little deserted on this Sunday at lunch time, so we opted to eat our lunch outside.
However, the inside of the restaurant was tastefully outfitted in cycling and Western riding decor.
We chose to dine al fresco in a small picnic area directly across the street from Saddles. This way, the kids could stand and dance while eating. They both get antsy after sitting on the bike for a while.
The weekday specials were prominently displayed in the front window. After finishing our meals, we packed up and headed back toward Woodward. It is only 6 miles between the two towns, so all in all, we ended up doing an easy 12 miles.
My favorite shot from the day – selfie in motion. Next time, we will ride more of the trail and hit up some of the infamous watering holes along the route. Cheers!
What’s your favorite bike route?