Des Moines has an excellent network of bike/walking paths, better than most cities I would say. Not only that, it is only getting better. Each neighborhood/suburb used to have their own paths that didn’t connect. This would strand you in your own area unless you wanted to drive to another area. With the paths becoming more connected, the choices for users are expanding. Here is a link to Des Moines trail maps if your interested.
1. Grays Lake– (Des Moines) The ever popular Grays lake is centrally located and easy to get to. Just south of downtown, the best way is to access it from Fleur Drive. The pedestrian bridge was an excellent addition, and the lights on the bridge make a very cool diamond pattern at night. Here is a link for more information.
2.The Principal Riverwalk– (Des Moines) What an excellent addition to downtown! The path goes up and down both sides of the Des Moines river. The path crosses over the river over a restored rail bridge, and up river over a new spectacular suspension bridge. If visiting Des Moines this is a great place for pictures. Here is a link for more information.
3.High Trestle Trail – (Madrid area)If you are afraid of heights, this is not the place for you. The high Trestle Bridge is a restored rail bridge from 1971. The High Trestle bridge was built in 1971 adjacent to the original 1912 bridge, which was torn down (which is the one you will see in the old photos). The views here are spectacular, overlooking the Des Moines river basin. Also the lights and “cribbings” that were added offer beautiful photo opportunities. Here is a link for more information.
4.Clive Greenbelt – (Clive) The Green belt path winds through back yards and residential neighborhood along a small creek. The scenery is varied and the trees along the creek provide shade as you walk. Here is a link for more information.
5.Bill Riley Trail – (Des Moines) This sprawling park offers a great bike path over and old wooden bridge, and through the wilds of the park. The path is about 2 miles long and ends at Greenwood park which in itself is worth seeing. For more information click here.
6.Copper Creek Lake – (Pleasant Hill) The path around a medium size lake is great for walking and popular too. After your walk, there are restaurants overlooking the lake including Legends. Here is a link for more information.
7. Jordan Creek Trail – (Des Moines/ West Des Moines )This is a great trail to see a side of the Des Moines area that you would not normally see. As you wind through West Des moines you can take in peoples backyards softball fields, and wooded areas getting a peek into peoples less guarded side of life. Click here for more information.
8. Gay Lea Wilson trail – (Altoona)- trail Behind the Hy-vee on 1st Street in Altoona there is an excellent community garden with a large praying mantis sculpture, and several small ponds with ducks. Altoona has been renovating this area with great results over the last few years. Here is a link for more information.
9. Neil Smith Trail – (Johnston, Des Moines) The only reason the Neil Smith trail isn’t higher on the list is because it is so long. It starts at Big Creek state park and ends in Downtown Des Moines. I have done this trail on a bike, but can’t imagine walking/jogging it. The trail is heavily wooded and actually has a lot of wildlife. (I saw a ten point buck when I biked it) It might be best to just pick a small part of this trail to explore by foot. Here is a link for more information.
10. Raccoon River Park – This trail is just about the right length, it takes an hour to an hour and a half to walk. The crushed limestone path keeps bikes away for the most part, so its a great place to walk. The trail is mostly wooded with views of Blue Heron lake and views of the Raccoon River. For more information here is a link.