Tag Archives: raccoon river valley trail

Welcome improvements on the Raccoon River Valley Trail – west of Des Moines

Two years ago, when I wrote a cover story about the Raccoon River Valley Trail  for  Rails to Trails magazine, the trail was looking good. Now it’s even better, as promised two years ago.  Where the trail intersects with gravel roads, the section you ride over is now paved – rather than gravel, which is a huge improvement. There is also  new landscaping here and there – some with new amenities such as picnic tables — which is also greatly appreciated.

It was hot and humid on the trail yesterday, which may explain why we had the 12-mile stretch from Redfield to Panora almost to ourselves. Lovely autumn landscape (despite the summary weather) with wide expanses of yellowing corn and still-green soy beans and old barns and bright blue silos in the distance. In the tiny town of Linden (a midway point), we had a lovely picnic at a table under an overhang in a small park. No one around other than the occasional piece of farm machinery rumbling by. In Panora, we stopped trailside at the Kick Stop for some ice cream and met some fellow riders from….the Czech Republic (they’ve lived in Ames, home of Iowa State  U., for years). Great day and welcome reminder of what I love about living in Iowa.

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Check out my story in Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s magazine: the Raccoon River Valley Trail

Here it is!  Click here! (This is the photo taken by my friend Denise…that was used below. And yes, that’s me riding….)

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On the Raccoon River Valley Trail – Redfield to Panora Iowa

Biking was hot and slow on the trail today from Redfield to Panora, Ia. (farm country about 45 minutes west of Des Moines), with the weather warmer and more humid than expected (92 degrees; who knows what percent humidity) but as always the ride  had its moments – we spotted three large raccoons (we think they were raccoons) crossing the trail, numerous exotic black and blue butterflies, a cyclist on a recombinant bike carrying a violin. (Yes, that was a violin.)

And there’s always ice cream. We used to go to PJs, a popular spot right on the edge of the trail when you arrive in Panora but one time it was closed so we asked around and found out about the 44 Drive In, west of town, past the small brick shops downtown. It’s nothing fancy – which is part of its charm. Just an old white and red trailer with a worn sign that smells a bit like onion rings and burgers, which we’ve never had. But the place is always busy. The malts are good and a small twist cone does the trick when you’re looking for a little kick.

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Filed under bike trails, biking, Des Moines, DESTINATIONS - Iowa, DINING