We weren’t exactly sure where the closed section of the Neal Smith Trail was, so when we arrived on the trail yesterday – a gorgeous fall day for a bike ride – at the Sycamore Access Trailhead just north of Interstate 80 on NW66th in Johnston and found a big barrier and closed for construction sign, we were bummed. But a man with a strong German accent peddled up and told us how to get around the closed segment, giving us classic Iowa instructions: continue east to the Casey’s (a gas station), turn right, ride for awhile til you get to a short bridge over the Interstate, then take the first right, go past two white farmhouses and you’ll see a black pickup parked next to the trail entrance.
We peddled east on NW 66th, turned right on what my map suggests is NW26th, through a strange no man’s flatland of fields and sandpits and the occasional old house, across a short bridge with battered pavement over I-80 and took the first right at the old white farmhouse (on a street that is NOT on my map) and voila – the trail. OPEN!
Funny that we got this information from a visitor to Des Moines. He spent his first 30 years in Munich but now lives in Wisconsin and was rendezvousing in Des Moines for a bike trip with his brother, who lives in Omaha – and also has an equally strong German accident….He peddled up soon after we started talking. Good to see out-of-staters enjoying Iowa’s trails – they had rode the day before on the High Trestle Trail, the one with the stupendous bridge.)
Just fyi: This from the DNR: A portion of the Neal Smith Biking and Hiking Trail will be closed for repair beginning Aug. 21. The trail will be closed from the Sycamore access to Morningstar Drive in Polk County, a distance of about three miles. Trail repair is expected to be completed in late October, depending on weather conditions.