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over the weekend: high trestle trail ride

May 2, 2011

High Trestle Bridge

High Trestle Bridge

Des Moines River

High Trestle Trail Ride High Trestle Trail Ride

Break time

Break time

On Saturday, T. and I joined a bunch of other cyclists, walkers, and runners for the opening day of the High Trestle Trail and Bridge in central Iowa. The trail is built on a former railroad bed, spanning over 25 miles and connecting several towns in the area. The trail’s highlight is the 13 story high and half a mile long bridge, apparently making it one of the largest pedestrian bridges in the world. The bridge was completed in 1973, replacing the original 1912 railroad trestle. The area around the bridge is known for its coal mining and so the 41 steel ‘frames’ that were added to the top of the bridge were designed to mirror the look of a coal mine. Approaching the bridge, pedestrians and cyclists are given the impression of looking into a mine shaft. At night, the ‘frames’ light up in blue (they’re lined with LED lights), making the bridge equally impressive in the dark as in the daylight.

T. and I had so much fun enjoying the flat paved trail among fields and farm land. It was so peaceful and relaxing out there – no cars, just cyclists, families, dogs, runners, and walkers. I felt like we could have kept cycling forever (if it weren’t for my pregnant body, which suggested otherwise). So we stuck to about a 15 mile ride on the trail and some perusing of the events in one of the towns.

If you’re in the Iowa area, take your bike to the High Trestle Trail, you won’t be dissapointed. The flat and paved trail makes for an easy ride and the grass shoulder with the occasional bench provides the perfect spot for a trail side break and picnic. I hope T. and I can squeeze in one more trip (a bike date, perhaps?) to the High Trestle Trail before I get too big to ride. I’m just starting the third trimester now and I’m thrilled for every bike ride that I can still take and enjoy.

T. with our bikes High Trestle Trail Ride

Des Moines River

High Trestle Bridge

High Trestle Bridge

High Trestle Bridge High Trestle Bridge

High Trestle Bridge

Des Moines River

High Trestle Bridge Ride

High Trestle Bridge High Trestle Bridge

High Trestle Bridge

17 Comments leave one →
  1. Pat permalink
    May 2, 2011 08:08

    Looks incredible. I think there might be a road trip to Iowa in our future.

  2. May 2, 2011 09:58

    Awesome! I MUST get out to see this trail. Sometime, I’d love to hear about what kind of preparations you’re making to continue biking with an infant. My wife and I are considering the box bike method, but most of our friends look at us like we’re crazy.

    • May 2, 2011 11:49


      I’ve been thinking a lot about it and was actually just talking to T. about it this weekend. Since it seems like with most methods – be it bike trailer, bike seat, etc – babies should be a few months old to ride in them, this puts us right in the winter months. So realistically, I don’t think we’ll be introducing her to cycling when temperatures are around 30 degrees or lower here. I know some people bike with newborns but I don’t think I want to do that. I think I want to wait the recommended 6 months until putting her in a trailer (when she can hold her own head up, etc). So since that would fall right in December and we live in a really cold Midwestern state, I think that most likely we’ll be introducing her to cycling next spring, when she’s just shy of a year old.

      So we’ve been waiting to make a call on what do purchase in terms or a trailer and such until next spring, when she’ll be ready. My thoughts now are that we’ll probably scour Craigslist for a trailer to add to our bike. I feel a bit more comfortable using that compared to a bike seat.

      What exactly is the box bike method? I don’t think I’m familiar with this!


      • May 2, 2011 12:55

        Box Bike Method
        Bakfiets is the dutch standard. The Danes have the Bullitt Bike, and there are a few versions made here in the US, most affordably by DoubleDutch Bikes in NJ (I think) and Joe Bike in Portland.

        A lot of folks argue that having the rear-facing kid in the box in front of the rider where the two can keep eye contact on each other is really great. The down side is that these bikes are pricey and larger than standard bikes. I don’t know much about babies on bikes (since I don’t have any kids), but with my first daughter scheduled to be born here in about 3 weeks, I’ve been doing some test rides.

  3. May 2, 2011 10:49

    This looks like it was so much fun. I especially enjoyed the photo of T. with your two bikes and two children’s bikes behind him. It seems to me a happy foreshadowing of the biking brood you might have one day!

  4. May 2, 2011 10:51

    This looks so so cool.

  5. May 2, 2011 12:12

    wow what a awesome bridge! i love it and the scenery is beautiful too! glad to hear that the weather was great every where and tons of people went out biking…well it makes sense may is bike month, yahooo!!!

    glad you had a great time, well anytime biking is involved it is a good time ;)


  6. May 2, 2011 12:26

    The bridge looks spectacular!

    I used to place the baby car seat inside the trailer so there is head support, but I waited until our children were 2 months old.

    After our children were 2 years old we used bike seats. It was much easier to haul our bikes around on the back of our van without having to breakdown a trailer.

    What ever your preference, do keep on cycling. Children are adaptable and can sleep almost anywhere.

    • May 2, 2011 13:23

      Annie, thanks for this comment! I hadn’t thought about using the car seat inside the trailer and being able to do so at 2 months already. That would mean when it’s around Oct. and still fall temperatures, so possibly a very doable thing! I’m excited about this option, I will need to talk to T. to see if we want to get a trailer sooner than we thought.


  7. May 2, 2011 13:13

    That bridge looks awesome and such a perfect day for a ride. Love that bike shirt, btw. I love leisurely bike rides.

  8. May 2, 2011 16:33

    I Iove these photos! Besides you and T looking adorable, those steel or iron frames add a really interesting architectural element.

    In October I went to see Walk On The Hudson, a 1.3 mile former railroad bridge transformed for cyclists and pedestrians.
    I was disappointed I personally was unable to ride at that time, but loved walking across and seeing all the cyclists. It’s such a great idea.

    And in NYC we have the Highline, originally built for freight traffic – now an elevated park,
    which is having a cycling event this month.

    As for cycling with little S, ask pediatricians what they recommend. I used trailer – which would not tip if you fell – I forget if it was due to a spring mechanism or if it released.
    Whatever you decide will be right for your little family.

  9. May 2, 2011 18:02

    That bridge is beautiful along with all the other scenery. I love the steel frames atop the bridge – very cool indeed.

  10. May 3, 2011 21:08

    aww such beautiful photos (and not just of the landscape). i constantly find myself wishing we had better bike trails around here, but you can pretty much ride as far as you want into the corn fields. it’s beautiful but i could go for some water here and there. iowa looks just gooorgeous in these photos.

  11. May 4, 2011 23:03

    Just recently discovered your blog and am enjoying browsing through it. Thanks for the post and pictures on this rail-to-trail. We hope to make it up there sometime soon to ride it.

  12. Elizabeth permalink
    May 5, 2011 13:30

    I’ve been meaning to stop by and comment on how great you look cycling away; congrats on having what appears to be (and I hope really is) a smooth pregnancy! I also wanted to recommend the iBert child seat–it’s for ages 12-months and up, so not relevant to you for a while, but it has been the greatest for me and my son. Would love to gush about it more if you are interested.


  1. happy one year to simply bike! « Simply Bike

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