Check out the High Trestle Trail

High Trestle Bridge
High Trestle Bridge

I am sure you’ve heard of the High Trestle Trail, but have you been on it? It’s a perfect family outing anytime the weather is nice, all ages can enjoy it and it doesn’t matter if you don’t bike. Walking, biking and yes, even horseback riding happen along the trestle.

Stretching from Ankeny to Woodward, the paved trail runs on an old railroad bed meandering through towns along the way.

For newbies, I’d recommend the stretch between Madrid and Woodward. It’s home to the trail’s crown jewel, “The Bridge.” Thirteen stories and a half mile long, the bridge stretches over the Des Moines River Valley and is definitely worth the trip!


The closest parking area to the bridge is at 2335 QF Lane in Madrid. The bridge sits three-quarters of a mile from the parking area and makes for a nice weekend walk.

You can cross the bridge and visit the historical site on the other end – and of course, get amazing pictures of the river valley below.

Walkers should keep right and bikers going by should give a verbal “on your left” warning. We don’t say it to be sassy, we say it to keep everyone safe!

At night, the bridge glows with blue lights – a totally different and really cool experience! Slightly creepy at night but it is a fun adventure. Every person in your party should have a runners’ light or bike light clipped to their front and back.

Hight Trestle Trail Bridge bike ride
Our favorite date night? A kid-free ride on the High Trestle Trail.

Short Distance Bikers (6 miles)

To get the most out of your High Trestle experience, park at the Madrid trailhead and go toward Woodward. It’s about a six-mile round trip from Madrid to the bridge and back. This distance is perfect for beginners or kids who can ride that far. Plus, stopping at the bridge breaks up the trip.

There are local restaurants in Madrid you can drive or walk to from the trailhead. Or, reverse it and start in Woodward – heading out to the bridge and back. Both stretches are equally entertaining and easy to ride.

Longer Distance Bikers (over 12 miles)

If it’s your first time on the High Trestle, do the stretch from Madrid to Woodward. It’s an 11-mile round trip, you’ll get to see the bridge and both Madrid and Woodward have restaurants and easy parking by the trail.

Our Family Rides

You can find our family of four on the trail one night a week. We park in Slater, ride to Madrid, have a couple beers (and Sprites) at the Flat Tire Lounge, and then go back to Slater. Sometimes, we have dinner at the Nite Hawk – our kids love the mac and cheese! The route is perfect for a weeknight ride and it’s a fun family activity we all enjoy. 

Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned rider, the High Trestle Trail has a lot to offer and is one of those things every Central Iowan should experience!

High Trestle riders, what are some of your favorite tips?


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