Neal Smith Trail

Des Moines, Polk City, Iowa

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219 ratings

24.8 mi. | Easy

The south end of the Neal Smith trail connects to the John Pat Dorrian Trail (once known as the East River Trail), providing a safe and scenic route from Des Moines’ downtown to Saylorville Lake and Big Creek. The trail, sometimes dominated by a view of the lake, traverses a range of landscapes including bottomland, shaded forest, oak uplands and prairie. Some sections along Saylorville Lake are quite hilly. Observant visitors will see deer, muskrat, beaver and other wildlife species. Rustling cottonwoods and rolling valleys are sprinkled with picnic areas and beaches. Popular rest stops include the Saylorville Lake Visitor Center with its many indoor displays and outdoor butterfly garden, one of the largest butterfly gardens in the state.

Neal Smith Trail
Neal Smith Trail
Neal Smith Trail
Big Creek
Beautiful day by the river
My son's first ride on an Iowa trail!
Neal Smith Trail
Beautiful day at Big Creek!
Neal Smith Trail
Big Creek Park.
Hi
Neal Smith Trail

Activities

  • Roller skateRoller skate
  • RunRun
  • HikeHike
  • Mountain BikeMountain Bike
  • BirdingBirding
  • BikeBike
  • BackpackBackpack
  • SiteseeSitesee
  • Cross Country SkiCross Country Ski
  • FishFish
  • HikeHike
  • PicnicPicnic
  • ParkPark
  • WildlifeWildlife
  • CampCamp
  • Camper ParkingCamper Parking

Trail Stats

LENGTH 24.8 mi.
SURFACE Concrete
DIFFICULTY Easy
CITIES Des Moines, Polk City
COUNTIES POLK
FEES No

More Info

ANIMALS Dogs on leash
ACCESSIBLE Handicap, Stroller
HORSES ALLOWED No
SEASON Year-round

Reviews & Comments

  • rjdunk

    7/11/2018 8:11:34 PM

    Currently flooded 7-11-18

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  • patsfan7235

    10/2/2017 6:52:33 PM

    Rode this trail on a Saturday 9-30-17. Great scenery, some hills and blind corners around lake areas which make it a bit challenging for beginners. Not many places to stop but Latitude 41 at the marina is a fun place to stop. Also not a lot of traffic on most of the trail for a weekend. Would definitely ride again when in this area.

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  • Charlie Bemis

    8/24/2016 2:03:24 PM

    Outstanding! Thanks for the Open Report

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  • aupjbricker

    8/21/2016 9:32:26 PM

    Now open

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  • Blake Campbell

    6/25/2016 1:34:01 PM

    Neal smith closed starting June 22 south of Euclid to river view

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  • Aaron Aamodt

    9/1/2015 10:48:23 PM

    Fun time checking out northern half of Ankeny. More than you'd expect...

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  • Roger Nebergall

    8/16/2015 9:56:59 PM

    Zfffff fix

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  • Jolene Hays

    7/5/2015 3:59:16 AM

    Great ride after SUP boarding. Amazing park. Can't wait to go back.

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  • Charli Cantwell

    6/21/2015 8:25:21 PM

    This is not an easy trail. There are quite a few hills. I would rate it as medium.

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  • reeser1432

    4/18/2015 5:16:45 PM

    Running from the storm!

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  • mitchpalmer

    7/3/2014 11:41:32 PM

    Hilly more challenging.

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  • mitchpalmer

    7/3/2014 11:40:40 PM

    Hills more challenging.

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  • Jeff Inman

    6/28/2014 12:29:01 PM

    My go-to training trail for Ragbrai. From the bottom of the damn to Big Creek and back there is over 1200 ft of elevation gain—more if you ride the boat ramps. You'll feel it but it is worth it.

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  • sethandersen

    5/29/2014 4:55:31 PM

    Biked the Neal Smith Trail from downtown DSM to Saylorville Lake visitor center with group of middle schoolers from Cowles Montessori schoolgroup of

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