Whether biking, walking or driving, I always prefer going in a loop — returning a different way than the one I just rode, walked or drove. New scenery, new experiences, new, new, new! But it’s not always easy- – especially on bike trails around Des Moines.
Now we have a new almost-loop that takes us north of our Beaverdale/Drake Neighborhood, on both sides of the Des Moines River, thanks to the new improved bridge on NW 66th Avenue that crosses the river. It’s all about “connectivity” — in this case connecting the Inter-Urban Trail to the Trestle to Trestle Trail , along the river’s west bank, to the Neal Smith Trail, along the river’s east bank. It’s not perfect — the second connection still requires navigating residential streets — but it’s better than it used to be.
From our house, we ride north to the intersection of Urbandale Avenue and 34th street, where we hop on the Inter-Urban trail, winding through the woods eastward, across 30th street on Urbandale Avenue, past the HyVee on ML King Blvd and onto the Trestle to Trestle Trail, riding north to the Des Moines suburb of Johnston.
In the bad old days, we used to turn around when we got to the ice cream shop (Van Dees) in Johnston (where all good trails should lead) and retrace our route. Or we’d dare to wend our way north and east on neighborhood streets (including the once-scary NW 66th Avenue bridge) to connect to the Neal Smith Trail, where we’d ride south on the river’s east bank.
Now, thanks to the new bridge, getting to the river’s east side is a breeze — a pleasant discovery we made last Sunday.
The NW 66th Ave. bridge now has a self-contained bike lane! On the west side of the bridge, there also is a new section of paved trail that leads briefly into the woods, away from the car traffic. In the past, we had to ride on a sidewalk along the busy road to the bridge and then share the bridge road (which narrows) with cars. At least once, we almost got blown over by passing cars while riding on the bridge’s slim and rough shoulder. NOT FUN!
Thanks to the new bridge, we can now ride safely to the east side of the river, head south to the (Wakonsa) Trestle Bridge and then retrace our route on to the Inter-Urban trail and home.