Fun on Two Wheels

Ankeny has plenty of places to hit the bike trails

With 90 miles of trails within city limits plus access to over 500 hundred other area cycling hot spots, two-wheel enthusiasts can keep busy exploring the city and beyond.

Find the hub of cycling in the city in Uptown. With bike shops including Bike Country (rentals available), new-in-2021 Riding on the Edge, and Ryno Velo plus plenty of dining options, this area is the starting-off to the popular High Trestle Trail and connects to numerous other riding spots.

For the long-haulers: Serious riders can spend days on Polk County’s paved trails, many of which are accessible from Ankeny. A popular rides starts in Uptown, connecting to the Neal Smith Trail and riding south to Martinsdale, a 42.28-mile trip (that’s just one way). The route rolls along the Des Moines River, plus there are dining and drinking stops in downtown Des Moines and Cumming. Other long rides lead northwest to Perry.

For a party ride: The popular High Trestle Trail delivers fun stops for food and drink all along the 50-mile round-trip route. It’s a complete day of exercise with some leisure breaks. The trail starts in Uptown and then heads northwest. A pitstop at Slater’s Nite Hawk Bar & Grill for cold brews and food such as house-made tots, broasted chicken and pizza.

About another hour is Madrid, where there’s coffee, ice cream or more adult drinks. A pinnacle of the trip is the 13-story High Trestle Trail Bridge less than 3 miles west of Madrid—and photos are a must. A few more miles gets you to Woodward, where you can try out the Whistlin’ Donkey for food and drinks. The way back offers the same potential stops plus Uptown’s outdoor dining for a grand finale.

For the off-roader: Sycamore Trail, located south of Saylorville Lake, below the dam, provides mountain biking bliss through old-growth forests. The 6.9-mile loop trail is good for all skill levels. Hikers also frequent the wooded path, and dogs are welcome.

For the casual cruiser: Heading south from Oralabor Road (there’s a trail edging the road), the 7.5-mile Gay Lea Wilson Trail is a leisurely, easy ride along Fourmile Creek to east Des Moines. The marsh on the south side of town provides optimal birding, with orioles, indigo buntings and goldfinches sighted from one of the resting benches. The trail spurs in Pleasant Hill for a longer ride to Altoona and also connects to the scenic Chichaqua Valley Trail.

For the family: Trails connect to 34 different public parks around town. Paths lead to the pool, the playground, the ball park and dining options.

Find a complete map of trails at

Biking by the numbers

4 bike shops in the city

90 miles of trails in town

5 towns on the High Trestle Trail


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