Jason, Jaylee, Josie (and Pop), Dave and Jan at the High Trestle Trail

The High Trestle Trail is a new bike trail that runs 25 miles from Woodward to Ankeny, Iowa. The highlight of the trail is the 13 story trestle bridge over the Des Moines River. This last weekend I took my wife and our three youngest to central Iowa to ride the trail. (My youngest brought her stuffed hippo — Pop)

We chose a perfect day, slight breeze, puffy clouds and temperatures in the low seventies. As a family we have a variety of riding abilities so I was not sure what to expect. I am an out-of-shape cyclist but I have years of experience and thousands of miles behind me. I was on my fixed-gear bike so I was not looking forward to any significant hills. My wife is relatively new to cycling and just getting accustomed to long rides. My son is an accomplished runner and my 12 year old daughter is a competitive swimmer, I knew they would have no trouble regardless of the terrain or distance. I was a bit concerned about my youngest. At ten, I had almost given up on ever teaching her how to ride a bike. This Spring she surprised me and a few weeks ago she learned how to ride. I put a basket on her bike for her hippo and now she rides daily. But this would be her longest ride.

The trailhead in Woodward is an old converted rail station. There is plenty of parking, restrooms water, bike racks and benches. The parking lot was pretty full several cyclists came and went as we unloaded the van. We got the bikes out, topped off the tires and I gave a brief trail etiquette lecture. We set off down the trail. It soon became apparent that the two older kids should be allowed to ride ahead on their own. My wife went on ahead with them and I rode with my youngest. She (and her hippo) had a great time. We listened to birds and talked the whole way. We re-grouped at the bridge and stopped to admire the view, it was spectacular.

We continued on to Madrid, 5.6 miles according to the sign. After having some ice cream we explored an exhibit to the coal mining industry. I know 11.2 miles is a short ride but we decided to turn around and head back. The ride was completely flat. The trail varied from open fields to wooded to the open expanse of the bridge.

Josie and Pop

As I was riding with my ten-year-old she asked to stop by the trail. I rang my bell and said stopping right … and she proceeded to cross the trail to stop on the left, when I told her I meant to stop on the right she crossed the trail again. I am so glad no one was coming by at the time (especially the triathletes in training who buzz by without announcing themselves) she definitely could have caused an accident. Once she was safely stopped I tried not to scold her but asked her what had happened. We had done a little trail riding at home so she should have known better. She said, “Daddy, sometimes I forget my right and left.”

It had never dawned on me. From then on I reminded her that we always stop on the side we are riding on, after announcing loudly, “Stopping!” and giving people around us time to react. I learned a good lesson, I will try to keep things simple.

The High Trestle Trail is a great family friendly ride. The portion we rode was flat but there are some mildly hilly sections. The bridge is spectacular and lit up at night.

The picture says it all, it is not often that my wife and I and our teen, tween and pre-teen (and her hippo) can all participate in an event and have big smiles on our faces. It was a perfect day.