Ways to Bike Greater Des Moines

When you live in Greater Des Moines (DSM), you have access to some of the best biking trails in the Midwest! DSM is truly a biking community, and with trails like the 89-mile Raccoon River Valley Trail and the 25-mile High Trestle Trail, there is no shortage of places to ride here. Find adventure around the next bend with cycling friends by taking part in difficult rides or working your wheels just for the fun of it. Check out these biking itineraries and other cycling opportunities you could enjoy when you live in DSM! 

Bike DSM Itinerary #1: High Trestle Trail 

A 13-story high bridge (pictured above) literally elevates the High Trestle Trail to icon status, and its 25 miles are a must-bike favorite for cycling enthusiasts.  

Start your ride with some coffee and scones from Porch Light Coffeehouse before you head to your next destination. Before you hit the trails, check out a few of the local bike shops. In Ankeny, there’s Kyle’s Bikes, RynoVelo Bike Shop and Riding on the Edge.  

Did you bring the entire family on this bike trip? If so, don’t miss Uptown Confections & Curiosities, a local candy shop in Uptown Ankeny that will help you fill your bike bag with sweets before you hit the trails. Who doesn’t need a little pop of energy on a long bike ride? 

After your ride on the High Trestle Trail, return to Ankeny for dinner at Trailside Tap. You can expect live music on the patio on Thursday nights — and if you return on Saturday or Sunday, you can enjoy weekend brunch, too. Other stops in Uptown that cater to cyclists include Firetrucker Brewery, Uptown Garage Brewing Co. or The Yankee Clipper

Plus, a pedestrian bridge on Oralabor Road, connects the High Trestle Trail, Gay Lea Wilson Trail and Neal Smith Trail, putting more trails within easy and safe access. The bridge, along with the nearby pedestrian tunnel, ensures bikers have safe access to the trails system as they cross busier roads in Ankeny. 

Bike DSM Itinerary #2: Bike the Northeast 

Start at the Bondurant Trail Head where you can jump on the Chichaqua Valley Trail. As you ride, see the small towns of Bondurant, Valeria, Mingo, Ira and Baxter.   

Bondurant also hosts Bike Nights at Reclaimed Rails. See what’s on tap and try the limited release brews available depending on the season. “Freeze Peach” is a summer favorite! 

Another ride option is the Gay Lea Wilson Trail, which links the communities of Altoona, Ankeny, Des Moines and Pleasant Hill. Check out Fireside Grill in Altoona or Mugsy’s Pizza House in Pleasant Hill, both not far off the bike path. 

two bikers at sunset

Bike DSM Itinerary #3: 89 Miles of Adventure 

Explore the western part of DSM on The Raccoon River Valley Trail, which winds 89 miles through 14 communities. You’ll find 45 restaurants along the trail, too. 

The Waukee Trailhead is the perfect starting point for exploring The Loop, which offers bikers a chance to view colorful artwork, observe Iowa birds like the Goldfinch and more. In Adel, visit the Freedom Rock and Brickyard Burgers & Brews as you ride the Raccoon River Valley Trail. In Panora, Pedal-In is right along the Racoon River Valley Trail, too. You can visit the Guthrie County Historical Village and Museum while you’re in town. 

Bike DSM Itinerary #4: Town to Country 

Experience the city core of DSM and hit the bike trails in Des Moines and then take the Great Western Trail out of Downtown Des Moines (DSM) and through the countryside and towns like Orilla, Cumming and Martensdale.

While on the western side of the region, visit bike shops in West Des Moines, including Bike World and Erik’s Bike Shop.  

Along the bike trails in Downtown DSM, check out Mullets for some good grub or stop in at Jasper Winery on Thursdays during the free summer concert series. While Downtown, visit Ichi Bikes or Des Moines Bicycle Collective in the Historic East Village, too 

Once you’re out on the Great Western Trail, you can grab a bite to eat at The Chicken (Selfies with the gigantic chicken statue not required but encouraged!) and experience Middlebrook Farm and Mercantile in Cumming. Love good spirits? Stop in at Iowa Distilling Company while you’re in Cumming, too.  

bikers on a trail

Connect with the DSM Cycling Community 

In addition to abundant bike trails and experiences, DSM is full of ways to connect with other cyclists.

  • Take a class with others interested in bicycle maintenance at The Street Collective. Learn about rim brakes, emergency repairs and more. 
  • Meet other cyclists through Iowa Bicycle Coalition events. From the Iowa Bike Expo to the Iowa Mountain Bike Festival, there are plenty of them throughout the year. You can also volunteer at events, too. 
  • Join the Des Moines Cycle Club for weekly rides and events. 
  • Women, join the Velorosa Cycling Team! Velorosa is a local women’s cycling wear shop in DSM and the team rides the trails together throughout the summer. 
  • Gather fellow cyclists and go on RAGBRAI – the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa. Yup, there’s actually a bike ride across the entire state of Iowa, presented by the Des Moines Register newspaper. The route for this 50-plus year summer tradition changes every year, offering glimpses of towns and vistas across the state.  

Want These Trails in Your Backyard? 

Make your move to DSM and you're never far from a bike trail. Coupled with a low cost of living, fulfilling job opportunities and amenities galore, Greater Des Moines is where you can find your greater.   

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