Writing new chapters for Central Iowa trails

By Lisa Hein on November 14, 2017 in Trail News & Updates

Nearly 40 years ago the Central Iowa trail network got its start with the establishment of the Bill Riley Trail. This short trail links Waterworks Park with Greenwood Park and the neighborhoods near the Des Moines Art Center and the former Science Center of Iowa location. It was a modest beginning named after the famous Iowa State Fair talent scout and television personality who loved trails.

Today the network of trails in central Iowa has grown to include local neighborhood trails
as well as long distance regional trails stretching in all directions. The current plan envisions the regional spine extending 70 miles west to Whiterock Conservancy, 45 miles southeast to Lake Red Rock, 80 miles northeast to Pine Lake State Park, 25 miles south to Lake Ahquabi, as well as existing connections to Jefferson, Martensdale and Ames.

The exciting part of this work is the amazing trail loops that have evolved. An eastern metro loop plan was begun in 1995 linking Chichaqua Valley Trail with the Heart of Iowa Nature Trail and the Neal Smith Trail. Large sections of this eastern loop are completed, but in the meantime, a western loop that will connect Neal Smith Trail with the High Trestle Trail and Raccoon River Valley Trail is underway. Finally, Central Iowa trail network is currently pursuing a third major loop linking the Great Western Trail to the Summerset Trail and back into downtown Des Moines.

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