Today’s bike ride was along the east side of Saylorville Lake on the Neal Smith Trail. When we left our apartment this morning it was not the trail that we had in mind. We were planning to ride the Chichaqua Valley Trail, a 20-mile scenic recreational trail between Bondurant and Baxter. We didn’t realize that the trail is currently closed for repairs due to flood damages from last summer. We tried unsuccessfully to find another bike trail in Bondurant that we thought we could see on a map. We followed some sidewalks for awhile but then realized that the line on the map was for a railroad, not a bike trail.
We knew there was a bike trail along Saylorville Lake so we reloaded the bikes on the car and headed northeast of Des Moines towards the lake. We didn’t know the name of the trail and missed one of the trailheads that crossed the road we were on. But then we saw a sign for the Visitors Center at Saylorville Lake, and, sure enough, they had maps of the trail. Since we had wasted half the day at that point, we didn’t have time or energy for the whole trail. We rode from the Visitors Center to the end of the trail and back, a total of about 25 miles.
As it turned out, we had picked the best section of the trail. There was a lot of shaded areas in that section, nice views of the lake, and many ups and downs and winding twists to keep things interesting. We learned from another biker at the end of the day, that the section we didn’t do from the Visitors Center to Des Moines, was all flat river bottomland through the suburbs and city.